Title: Almond Author: Won-pyung Sohn
“Whenever life pulled brutal pranks on him, Gon would think that life was like having yourn mom hold your hands one moment, warm and safe, then suddenly drop them with no explanation. No matter how hard he tried to grab hold, he was always abandoned in the end.”
Almond: the novel
It’s not every day you read a book from the perspective of an individual—more specifically, a boy—with Alexithymia. (Then again, it’s not every day you come across such a trait in a book either.) The protagonist, Yunjae, has such a distinct voice that’s frank and detached, but in some ways, curious, that occasionally makes you pause to think about why we do and think the things we do.
I read this book because some of my students mentioned in a class, that it was interesting for me how, most of the time as teenagers, we follow many aspects of our singers or celebrities that we admire, so know that they read a book because of that reason makes me want to read it.
There were a couple of things that threw me off about this book, though. The main one is that I’m not a huge fan of the overcoming narrative, especially when it’s as neatly packaged as the one you’ll find in this novel. It’s not that I want characters to suffer, but I also think this constant strive for normalcy is a problematic one, so it was a little disappointing to see how things wrapped up. I also can’t tell if this is just the result of the translation, but I felt the dialogue between characters was really awkward, and I couldn’t really make head or tails of the nuances of their relationships. Korean having degrees of formality in the language is really hard to translate, so I don’t entirely fault the translator for this, but I think there could have been a way to navigate this a bit better. While I was reading have to make some searching to know more about certain words, and because of that, I found many interesting facts about Korea, their culture, language even history, all I had in my mind was knowing that some of the kids on my classes were really into this book because they can connect somehow with their singer, reason, when you are reading, has a connection between you, the book and the person who tell you shout read it or that this book can be interesting for you.
Almond is worth reading, especially because it is told from a unique perspective. I did find this as heartwarming and enjoyable as others seem to have found it, even though, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how things ended.
Content Warning: bullying, animal cruelty, violence, death, toxic friendship, details of injuries.