Author: Clarissa Goenawan
Publisher: Soho Press
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
Intriguing, mischievous, and well thought out. A spring must read!
Ren Ishida is finishing up graduate school at a university in Tokyo when he receives word that his sister, Keiko, has been murdered. Ren travels to the small town of Akakawa to take care of the memorial service and see to his sister’s affairs as neither of his parents want anything to do with his sister since she left several years ago. Ren and his sister were always close and often alone together as he grew up since his parents were always fighting. The police have no leads on the murder investigation, so Ren plans to wrap things up and head back to Tokyo. While at the cram school that Keiko taught at, the owner finds out that Ren also studied American and British literature and offers him his sister’s position for the rest of the semester. On a whim, he decides to take up the offer to also try to find out what happened to his sister. As he meets his sister’s colleagues, he finds that his sister changed from whom he knew and the woman he talked to on the phone every week. Ren comes to find that perhaps he would rather not know who she became but he can’t stop himself from falling down her rabbit hole.
This is by far one of the best written books that I have read so far this year. The story flowed seamlessly and keep me intertwined through all the developments of Keiko’s past life and Ren’s current affairs. The story was ultimately about Ren fining closure and maturity through his sister’s murder. I was glad to see progressive character development for once on multiple characters, primarily Ren and Rio. I was also glad to see that Ren didn’t repeat his sister’s past mistakes, even though he came very close.
Part of what I love about this book is the glimpse into a different culture. As an American, I often forget that other parts of the world are very different from what we see every day. The thought of still having arranged marriages in today’s society mixed with shunning a child due to disobedience is drastically different then what I am used to. It’s books like these that really have the opportunity to open a reader’s mind to a real place outside of their current area. The scenes were set beautifully and I could feel the chill in the air at Akakawa.
Although there is not any foul language in this book, there are some implied sex scenes; however, there is nothing explicit. There is also some alcohol/tobacco use and scene concerning a suicide. I recommend this book to mature young adult readers and up.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.