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 provide him with a safe and content life. 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. However, one day a tragedy hits Yunjae’s life and as always he is not sure how to feel about it… this wasn’t in his mother’s teachings and she is no longer there to help him out.
The novel starts with the promise of knowing monsters. Almond tells the story of Yunjae and his brain condition and how people interact with them. The freshness and uniqueness of the plot capture the reader’s attention from the opening line. The story moves slowly without any major event keeping the reader going forward.
The prospect of seeing Yunjae facing simple life events with his emotionless condition makes the reader go forward. Interestingly, a monster is an adjective used for him just for his incapability of feeling or acting “normally.” However, one can argue that the monster in the story is society and its lack of empathy and understanding of unique situations like Yunjae’s. Are monsters the ones that are unable to feel emotions? Or the ones that hurt people knowingly the damage that they are inflicting?
A sea of emotions. Almond shows us also how people that do not know how to deal with their feelings and trauma tend to have more difficulties than those who cannot, like Yunjae. In this novel, the author shows us that feeling and coping are two different aspects of life, and one does not need the other to exist.
Available on Kindle Unlimited and recommended by RM of BTS, Almond promises to feel for the main character, suffer from his losses, and enjoy his gains on his behalf.
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