Kim’s debut novel follows a Korean family from 1951 to 1967. Told in chapters narrated by several of the family members, If You Leave Me centers around Haemi, a strong-willed, independent, temperamental woman living in a country where females are ostracized if they are not meek and mild. Other interesting, well-described characters are Haemi’s sickly but kind younger brother, her husband who survived the Korean War but will always bear the scars from it, and the love of Haemi’s life who wants to marry her and help raise her four daughters despite the consequences he knows they will face.
If You Leave Me is a wonderful read. Kim’s characters are fully drawn, the situations they encounter are thoroughly realistic and the plot moves along quickly.