Friday 29 December 2023

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha | Book Review

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Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 15th October 2019

Grace Park and Shawn Mathews share a city, but seemingly little else. Coming from different generations and very different communities, their paths wouldn't normally cross at all. As Grace battles confusion over her elder sister's estrangement from their Korean-immigrant parents, Shawn tries to help his cousin Ray readjust to life on the outside after years spent in prison.

But something in their past links these two families. As the city around them threatens to spark into violence, echoing events from their past, the lives of Grace and Shawn are set to collide in ways which will change them all forever.

In all honesty, when I first started this book, I was close to stopping and potentially going back again later as it was very slow at the beginning. I am so glad I kept going.

Your House Will Pay follows Shawn Matthews, a 45 year old Black man and Grace Park, a 27 year old Korean woman. In the early 90s, Shawn Matthews' older sister Ava was shot and killed in a convenience store by the Korean clerk. She was unarmed and just sixteen years old. 

Now, in 2019, Grace Park's elderly mother is shot whilst leaving her store. Both of their stories are interwoven together and it is a deep, moving and thoughtful read.

Race is a massive focus in this book. I have read a lot of books where the race issues have been between white people and Black people but this is the first I've read about Korean conflict with African Americans. Upon doing some research after the book, I learned that the plot of Ava Matthews being shot by a Korean clerk is reminiscent of a real life event where Latasha Harlins was fatally shot by Soon Ja Du in 1991.

As I mentioned it is a very slow paced book but well worth a read. It surprised me, the characters felt real and I especially loved Shawn's chapters. I could definitely see this made into a TV drama.

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