Reading is a series of human emotions. Writing is the gift of sharing these emotions.
Almond is a coming-of-age fiction written by Sohn Won-pyung and translated by Sandy Joosun Lee. The story revolves around Yeonju. He has alexithymia, a mental disorder which prevents a person from being able to identify or express emotions. He only has his mom and grandmother to care for him, so they make sure he lives a normal life by teaching him different expressions on different situations to avoid people from thinking he’s not normal.
On his 16th birthday, Christmas Eve, a shattering incident changes his life when a psycho randomly kills people in the street. Unfortunately, Yeonju’s mom and grandmother are victims of the psycho’s violence. Unaware of how Yeonjun should feel, he just stares without emotions. His grandmother dies, and his mother ends up in a coma. When he goes back to school after the incident, the students gossip about him and his blank expression while his family was being attacked. Left alone in the world without knowing how to feel, he meets a troubled teenager named Gon who hates him so much for not showing emotions even when he’s beating him up. The bullying continues, but Gon just feels exhausted that Yeonju isn’t one bit intimidated by him. He gives up, but his fascination over Yeonju doesn’t stop there. Soon, the two develop a peculiar, but life-changing friendship that will be beneficial to Yeonju’s alexithymia.
I instantly searched for this book at my favorite online bookstore after finding out that BTS members, RM and Suga loved this book. As a booklover like them, and as a BTS Army, I didn’t pass the chance to read something they’ve read.
When I started reading it, I got goosebumps because before the story started, the author provided notes about alexithymia. I was shocked because when I was way much younger and aspiring to be an author, I wanted to write about a girl who has alexithymia because that would be an exaggerated version of me. There was a time when I researched for symptoms of what I was dealing with and I came across this mental disorder. Of course, I don’t have alexithymia. During that time, I was just feeling…or rather, not feeling anything because I was somehow empty, and google just led me to a mental disorder that have the same symptoms. That gave me an idea to create a lead character that has alexithymia, but the story never materialized in my head because there were other stories that came after.
Almond is the very first book I read by a Korean author and I’m glad that BTS led me to this book because it was so amazing! It pulled me into the story and let me experience what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t feel. Sometimes, it can be an advantage to feel nothing, but most of the time, it can be troublesome. The most important element and highlight of this book is Gon and Yeonju’s character development. This book is a manifestation of how a person can change someone else’s view in life, which in result, could change a person’s life itself. Hence, I am rating this 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book to readers who love coming-of-age stories.
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