Author: Kwon Yeo-Sun
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 14th October 2021
In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.
Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.
Shifting between the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates struck in different ways by her otherworldly beauty, Lemon ostensibly takes the shape of a crime novel. But identifying the perpetrator is not the main objective here: Kwon Yeo-sun uses this well-worn form to craft a searing, timely exploration of privilege, jealousy, trauma, and how we live with the wrongs we have endured and inflicted in turn.
This book is not an easy one to review – I’ve really never read anything else like it! It kind of eludes description in a sense – it’s sort of a crime novel but also very much not and sort of a mystery yet that doesn’t quite fit right either. The story revolves around the long aftermath of the murder of a beautiful young woman named Kim Hae-on in 2002. We follow her younger sister through her life which has been utterly consumed by the tragedy of her sister’s death and we also experience the perspectives of two of Hae-on’s classmates. Lemon really examines the nonsensical feeling of loss and grief and the way one act of violence can reverberate through time.
Lemon is not the kind of book that wraps everything up neatly in a bow, it is full of questions without answers which can, in fairness, be frustrating. However it really isn’t about finding answers at all – it looks at the way people are affected by others and connect with each other. The prose is visceral and unnerving whilst the book itself has a dreamlike, almost hallucinatory quality to it that I can’t quite explain. Lemon is a very short novel but it packs a serious punch and is so very worth picking up, to experience it for yourself and see what you get out of it because I really think everyone will interpret it in a slightly different way. Eerie, original, insightful and unique – I highly recommend giving Lemon a chance, especially if you are looking for something outside the box.
I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion. Huge thanks to Jade for having me on the tour!