• Almond

  • A Novel
  • By: Won-pyung Sohn
  • Narrated by: Greg Chun
  • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (276 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.

Yunjae was born with a brain condition called alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends - the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that - but his devoted mother and grandmother aren’t fazed by his condition. Their little home above his mother’s used bookstore is decorated with colorful Post-it notes that remind him when to smile, when to say "thank you", and when to laugh. Yunjae grows up content, even happy, with his small family in this quiet, peaceful space. 

Then on Christmas Eve - Yunjae’s 16th birthday - everything changes. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school and begins to bully Yunjae. Against all odds, tormentor and victim learn they have more in common than they realized. Gon is stumped by Yunjae’s impassive calm, while Yunjae thinks if he gets to know the hotheaded Gon, he might learn how to experience true feelings. Drawn by curiosity, the two strike up a surprising friendship. As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people - including a girl at school - something slowly changes inside him. And when Gon suddenly finds his life in danger, it is Yunjae who will step outside of every comfort zone he has created to perhaps become a most unlikely hero. 

The Emissary meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in this poignant and triumphant story about how love, friendship, and persistence can change a life forever. 

©2020 Won-pyung Sohn (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Almond

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

So many quotes to choose from...

I greatly enjoyed this book. The story is told from the perspective of Yunjae, a boy born with the inability to feel fear or other emotions. This is a coming of age story but not exactly in the usual sense. There is no rebellion here or drama with parental figures. Yunjae is trying to understand himself and his relation to others and to the larger world. Since he does not feel emotion he is quite reflective on the meaning of words. I never appreciated how much emotion translates the individual words we use each day. Similar to how words representing color would be difficult for someone who has never seen to interpret, words that contain an emotional context are difficult for Yunjae to interpret. There is an underlying current in this book about what is normal and the pressure placed on individuals to be normal and to conform. In the course of the story we are introduced to Gon, a boy who was abducted from his family at a young age and is later abandoned and put into the system. It is an interesting juxtaposition between Yunjae, who was raised by a caring mother and grandmother and Gon who was raised in chaos and without love. In the beginning of the novel, Yunjae refers to them both as monsters. Yunjae who cannot feel emotion and Gon who trusts no one develop a relationship. Neither one of them truly understands what it means to be or have a friend. I found it really interesting that Yunjae was able to accept Gon and see value in him mainly due to his ability to view Gon's actions without emotion. This book took me through more lows than highs and I am left with this: “Lastly, and I know it sounds like an excuse, but neither you nor I nor anyone can ever really know whether a story is happy or tragic.”

1 person found this helpful

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Love it and was so sad when it ended

I saw that BTS’s RM and Suga were reading this book in an ad and thought why not give it a try. I can honestly say, this book was excellent, even without a call out from BTS. Very easy to read and I couldn’t put it down. I was hooked. I wish I could read it again for the first time, I loved it so much. This book made me feel so many things. I highly recommend you read this!

1 person found this helpful

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Hope and growth mindset

This short novel is about friendship and change. It is beautifully written and filled with ebbs and flows of life.

Some books are best read. For me, this book was more meaningful by listening. My mind could do focus on the story and visuals.

It would be a discussion point for college freshmen or as a book club selection. As the story touched my heart, I kept wondering, how might others relate and react?

The book was recommended by RM from BTS; now I understand why.

1 person found this helpful

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Adding to the fav list! 💜

I loved this story. I broke down so hard during the empathy experiment. Exquisite and beautifully thought provoking.

1 person found this helpful

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excelent read

no dull moments, very out of the ordinary for my usual books of interest and loved it, would recommend it without a doubt

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Great

Great book. It is detailed and moving. Loved it! Touching! Great narration. Draws you in immediately. Great moral compass.

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Insanely Beautiful!

I don’t think there are any words in any language that can summarize how beautifully written this book is. Such an incredible story. Definitely worth the read/listen. 🤍

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Absolutely beautiful

I loved how realistically the characters were written. For such a small volume it expressed the realities of the human condition - depravity, heroism, joy, sorrow, cowardice, apathy, love, loyalty and friendship.
If only we could look beyond our prejudices and assumptions to experience empathy for others even when they may at first glance seem despicable.
It’s a book I will be recommending and gifting to my friends.

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Love this book a lot!

Evokes à variety of emotions and is a beautiful translation, would highly recommend it!

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absolutely wonderful

I loved this story. It was dark and uplifting all at the same time

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  • Vivienne
  • 08-18-22

Simple, short and entertaining

I really liked this one. The narrator was great, the story and central character were interesting and it's not too long. I'd listen again!