Book Review: Almond

Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn

Request It!

As a huge fan of global literature, Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn no doubt comes to mind
when I think of my all-time favorite books. I read this book around three years ago and was
immediately struck by its prose, plot, and engaging yet simple storyline. In that vein, this book
was incredibly easy to read and I was able to finish it in two days.

Almond follows the story of a boy named Yunjae from childhood to adolescence. The
unique point of the story comes from Yunjae’s brain condition called alexithymia, which makes
it near impossible for him to feel emotions like fear, anger, and happiness. Due to his condition,
Yunjae spends most of his childhood in the company of his Mother and Grandmother who
attempt to teach him how to function in society despite his condition.

The rest of the book follows Yunjae’s complicated relationships he forms in school. Most
notably, one with his friend Gon. Through this friendship, Yunjae’s emotional range is
broadened as his world expands with new experiences and social situations. He faces tragedy
when both his Mother and Grandmother are victims of random violence. Yet, this experience
teaches Yunjae about his emotions and deepens his relationship with Gon.

To me, the plot of this book was beautifully simple in the way that it felt relatable and
interesting. The dialogue was easy to follow, and each character felt distinctive and highly
developed. The book is broken up into three parts representing major plot or character shifts, this
kept me engaged as a reader and worked nicely with the flow of the story.

My favorite element of this book was the friendship between Yunjae and Gon. This
relationship felt very natural and their dialogue reminded me of friendships in my own life. The
two characters have conflicting personalities; Yunjae is shy and cold, Gon is outgoing and
emotional. This makes their friendship very dynamic and interesting to read about as you are
able to see the ways they push each other out of their comfort zones and complement each other's

However, I felt that the second half of the book lost some of the quality that the
beginning had. The book begins to center Gon’s development and focuses on a storyline that felt
a bit rushed and random. This new plot involves Yunjae having to rescue Gon from a violent
gang. However, it felt as though this conflict came out of nowhere and became a bit confusing.
Still, I loved this book overall and consider it one of my favorites. I would recommend it
to anyone who feels stuck in a reading slump as it is very easy to read. I also would recommend

it to anyone who loves character-driven stories and simple plots. Moreover, the book has
beautiful descriptions and dialogue, it feels like any line from the book is a memorable quote.
One of my personal favorites is this one:

“From what I understood, love was an extreme idea. A word that seemed to force
something undefinable into the prison of letters. But the word was used so easily, so often.
People spoke of love so casually, just to mean the slightest pleasure or thanks.”

-Review by Teen Advisory Board Member, 4/14/24.