University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from? Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman's careful facade, unmasking her most painful secrets.
"In fact, the world inhabited by Miwako Sumida was less than perfect, causing the college sophomore to choose to leave it at the age of 20. In the wake of her suicide, those closest to Miwako were left stunned and looking for answers. Foremost among that group is Ryusei Yanagi, a classmate who had fallen in love with Miwako but whose attempts to date her were spurned, leaving them just good friends. Grief-stricken after Miwako's death, Ryusei turns to Miwako's closest female friend, Chie, who alone can help him uncover Miwako's secrets. Ryusei also shares his feelings with his older sister, Fumi, who had also grown close to Miwako; Fumi has her own secrets, including a gift that she often considers a curse and that lends an otherworldly aspect to the novel. Like Goenawan's previous Rainbirds (2018), this is more literary fiction than conventional mystery, featuring exceptionally well-drawn characters facing adversity in a narrative written with an elegance and delicacy appropriate to its Japanese setting."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Goenawan's tender and tragic follow-up to Rainbirds follows a group of college friends grasping for answers after the death of their friend. Ryusei Yanagi first meets fellow student Miwako Sumida at a restaurant near the Waseda university campus in Tokyo. They bond while browsing in an English-language bookstore, reading together in their university's library, and assisting Ryusei's sister, Fumi, at her painting studio. Ryusei is drawn by Miwako's candor ("You seem pretty frivolous to me," she tells him after admitting surprise at his deeper interests), but the two stay in romantic limbo as Miwako keeps Ryusei at a distance. Goenawan conveys Miwako's story in three parts, alternating from the gentle and heartbroken Ryusei, artist and late-night hostess Fumi, and wistful and anxious best friend Chie, who accompanies Miwako to get an abortion without knowing who had gotten her pregnant, having sensed that her friend had been raped. After Miwako goes to Kitsuyama, a remote Japanese village, and commits suicide, Ryusei and Chie follow a trail of clues from letters and diary entries to understand why she killed herself. Goenawan's luminous prose captures the deep emotions of her characters as they grapple with questions about family history, gender, and sexuality. The tug of Miwako's strange, troubled spirit will wrench readers from the beginning. Agent: Maria Cardona. (Mar.)"
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