A Heartrending Read

Saturday, May 4, 2024


Fifty Words for RainFifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I had to review this book in one word, it would be heartrending. From start to finish, Nori goes from one bad situation to another. She’s the bastard child of the Kamiza clan and is hidden away in an attic after her mother disgraces herself, then abandons Nori to the care of her grandparents. In my view, that’s the worst sin her mother committed.

Set in Japan after the Second World War, the reader gets a view of the changing world that’s resisted by the aristocracy. When Nori meets her brother, the heir apparent, she’s fascinated with him. He has scant regard for her at first, and her adoration is idolatry that I feared would turn into incest. It didn’t.

The cruelty and lack of regard for Nori’s life underscores the divide between the rich and poor, the accepted and the forbidden. Her calm acceptance of being less than nothing makes Fifty Words for Rain a painful read.

Nori eventually escapes the harsh world she was born into, but comes full circle and returns to Japan. The end of the book leaves much food for thought and speaks to untenable choices people make out of a sense of obligation, misguided or not.

In Nori’s case, her decision to change the status quo was at odds with the treatment of her son. With power in her hands, she walks in her wicked grandmother’s footsteps. But, if there’s a follow-up to this story, I definitely want to read it.

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