Weekly Reads: Almond

Cover of the book Almond
Caprielle Eden // The Watchdog.

“I have almonds inside me. So do you. So do those you love and those you hate. No one can feel them. You just know they are there. This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

– Won-pyung Sohn, “Almond”

“Almond” is a fictitious bildungsroman novel written by Won-pyung Sohn. The story centers around Yunjae, a boy who was diagnosed with alexithymia. This medical condition, referring to the inability to recognize emotions, has irrevocably affected his life. Though, that doesn’t seem to bother him, as he has his loving mother and grandmother by his side. 

However, on Yunjae’s Christmas Eve birthday, his life is drastically altered when a tragedy unfolds for his mother and grandma. Now forced to face the world on his own, Yunjae braves the journey of finding himself. 

The journey becomes unsteady when a new student, Gon, arrives at Yunjae’s school. Testing both of the boys’ emotions, they grow to develop a unique relationship and special bond. This leads them down difficult roads which force the boys to reflect. The depiction of their relationship is complicatedly beautiful. 

Sohn writes minimalistic prose, yet she manages to establish a vivid and intricate environment for the characters to interact in. Through her complex and deep characters, she takes an interesting perspective on human emotions and how instrumental they are in our lives. 

Sohn graduated from Sogang University with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and philosophy. Although the novel was published in March of 2017 (translated from Korean to English by Sandy Joosun Lee), she started conceptualizing the idea for the novel in 2013. The novel won the Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction and later the Jeju 4.3 Peace Literary Award. It also gained massive traction after RM and Suga, members of the South Korean boy band BTS, were seen reading the novel in their 2020 reality show, “BTS In the Soop.”

Currently, Sohn works as a novelist, screenwriter and film director.