“It is a privilege to read Crystal Hana Kim’s fiction, which both edifies and enlightens.” —Min Jin Lee

A hauntingly poetic family drama and coming-of-age story that reveals a dark corner of South Korean history through the eyes of a small community living in a reformatory center—a stunning work of great emotional power from the critically acclaimed author of If You Leave Me.

In 2011, Eunju Oh opens her door to greet a stranger: a young Korean American woman holding a familiar-looking knife—a knife Eunju hasn’t seen in thirty years, and that connects her to a place she’d desperately hoped to leave behind forever.

In South Korea in the 1980s, young Eunju and her mother are homeless on the street. After being captured by the police, they’re sent to live within the walls of a state-sanctioned reformatory center that claims to rehabilitate the nation’s citizens but hides a darker, more violent reality. While Eunju and her mother form a tight-knit community with the other women in the kitchen, two teenage brothers, Sangchul and Youngchul, are compelled to labor in the workshops and make increasingly desperate decisions—and all are forced down a path of survival, the repercussions of which will echo for decades to come.

Inspired by real events, told through alternating timelines and two intimate perspectives, The Stone Home is a deeply affecting story of a mother and daughter’s love and a pair of brothers whose bond is put to an unfathomably difficult test. Capturing a shameful period of history with breathtaking restraint and tenderness, Crystal Hana Kim weaves a lyrical exploration of the legacy of violence and the complicated psychology of power, while showcasing the extraordinary acts of devotion and friendship that can arise in the darkness.

About the author(s)

Crystal Hana Kim is the author of If You Leave Me, which was named a best book of 2018 by over a dozen publications. Kim is the recipient of the 2022 National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award and is a 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize winner. Currently, she is the Visiting Assistant Professor at Queens College and a contributing editor at Apogee Journal. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.


"Propulsive." — People

“Exposes a dark reality in South Korea’s history through a gripping story about human connection and the will to survive.” — Real Simple

“Riveting. . . Kim generates empathy for all the characters by showing the anguish and desperation that drive their harrowing deeds. This confirms Kim’s reputation as a formidable talent.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Kim transforms an ignominious slice of modern Korean history into a mesmerizing exploration of family bonds repeatedly tested by tortuous circumstances. [Her] second novel is a wrenching, haunting read as her breathtaking storytelling provides indelible testimony to witness and behold.” — Booklist (starred review)

“I read the entirety of The Stone Home during a recent flight to Seoul, unable to put it down, often crying. . . The novel’s portrayals of caretaking, mothering, and tenderness inside and despite the reformatory’s walls are richly layered and intensely moving." — R. O. Kwon, Electric Literature, “75 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2024” 

"Crystal Hana Kim brings to life a forgotten moment in South Korean history with haunting and cinematic beauty. The Stone Home's portrait of humanity is both brutal but also illuminated with hope."   — Cathy Park Hong, New York Times bestselling author of Minor Feelings

“With ferocity as well as tremendous tenderness and psychological insight, Crystal Hana Kim brilliantly bears witness to shocking state-sanctioned brutality in 1980s South Korea while telling a universally resonant story of lost innocence, resistance, survival, family bonds, and how communities form in even the most desperate circumstances. Haunting and suspenseful, The Stone Home dares its characters, and readers, to hope.” — Jessamine Chan, New York Times bestselling author of The School for Good Mothers

“Propulsive and unflinching, Crystal Hana Kim deftly balances the factual and emotional truths of a vivid setting and cast of characters. The Stone Home is a raw, authentic, and empathetic look at a little-known piece of history—everyone should read it.”
Sara Novic, New York Times bestselling author of True Biz

“Crystal Hana Kim serves up immersive descriptions so visceral I can hear the characters breathing, feel their physical aches and unbearable longing, taste the crunch of radish and hot fish stew. This is a powerful story that shows us how courage can be summoned in the bleakest of surroundings.”
Chanel Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Know My Name

The Stone Home is an absolutely necessary read that shines light on a crucial yet overlooked point in history. Through her luminous talent, perfect prose, and unwavering narrative might, Crystal Hana Kim transforms a difficult historical moment into a moving portrait of generational strife and familial devotion. To what extent will we go to protect the ones we love? To protect the truth? The human heart is fallible yet also miraculous in what it can endure. Here is a book that entwines the stories of many into one collective, beating heart.” — Weike Wang, award-winning author of Chemistry

“Impressive, multi-layered, and haunting; choral in its unflinching, realistic, yet heartfelt account of state-sanctioned violence. A necessary read.” — Nafissa Thompson-Spires, award-winning author of Heads of the Colored People 

"Crystal Hana Kim did not come to play. The Stone Home is a work of historical fiction that unearths a tragedy and illuminates the human cost. What do governments do with the powerless and the poor? How does anyone survive the heartlessness of the state? This compelling, challenging novel does not flinch from hardships, but it also shines a light on human resilience and love. A powerful novel." — Victor LaValle, author of Lone Women

“Crystal Hana Kim is one of today’s most exquisite writers. Her beautiful words tell a brutal story of family, state, and the history walled off during our lifetimes. It’s a story we need to know, put on the page by the author we trust to tell it. Stunning, frightening, and awe-inspiring, The Stone Home is the book we have been waiting for.”  — Julia Phillips, bestselling author of Disappearing Earth

"In a place designed to obliterate love and courage, both find their truest forms. This is the truth The Stone Home bears, and what a wrenching, transformative truth it is." — Megha Majumdar, bestselling author of A Burning

“Stunning … The novel is interested in something most others aren’t: the aftermath. It focuses both on what comes after war—as a new country struggles to develop its identity—and what follows Haemi’s fateful decision, as the ramifications of her choice ripple out to affect everyone around her.” — Washington Post on If You Leave Me

“If You Leave Me is graced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life.” — Richard Ford

If You Leave Me is a thrilling debut, a lyrical and lovely novel that beautifully showcases Crystal Hana Kim’s emotional intelligence and empathy for her characters.” — Emma Cline, New York Times bestselling author of The Girls

“Heartrending . . . Detailing the anguish of star-crossed love and familial duty, If You Leave Me is a story about how insidious war can be, how it can continue to fracture a family a generation after the fighting. It’s a stunning feat of lyricism, an enthralling, tragic novel brimming with angst and remorse.” — USA Today

“A 16-year-old girl finds love in a refugee camp during the Korean War, but when a new, wealthy suitor appears, her future is hijacked by her family’s practical needs: food, medicine, money. Debut novelist Kim combines vivid depictions of traditional Korean culture with an immersive, heartbreaking story about war, passion, and the road not taken.” — People on If You Leave Me

“It is a privilege to read Crystal Hana Kim’s fiction, which both edifies and enlightens. Her novel, If You Leave Me, is a beautiful and moving chronicle of individuals caught in the trials of history.” — Min Jin Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Pachinko

“Kim’s heartrending saga—told from the perspectives of five characters—examines how difficult choices can test even our closest relationships.” — Real Simple

“Crystal Hana Kim possesses a pleasingly clear and fluid style of writing . . . deftly intertwining personal and political conflicts.” — Wall Street Journal