Ruth is a Novelist with writer’s block living on a Canadian island with her husband Oliver. One day a mysterious diary washes up on the shore, a diary from a Japanese school girl called Nao. Nao is obsessed with time and she explores this as she writes in her journal, attempting to capture her grandmother’s story. It is to be the last thing Nao does before she leaves this place, suicide runs in the family you see.
Ruth starts reading this journal and becomes absorbed in discovering more about Nao, her family and her life. Oliver is there because randomly reads about different crow species or something. The book follows the two female characters in the pattern of Nao’s diary entries (with Ruth’s notes) and then more distant chapters that deal with Ruth’s emotions and reactions and the life on the island.
Nao’s diary entries worked really well. I was less enthused about the parts where we follow Ruth’s slow burning obsession with them. It was an attempt to look at the relationship between author and reader, but it fell flat as Ruth was researching, thinking, wondering, but ultimately coming to a lot of the same conclusion that I, as a reader, was. It made the book feel regurgitated and over-explaned,
Which is a shame. There’s loads of good stuff in here. Philosophy on how time works, what connects people, how to find peace in life, an exploration of suicide.
Life is fleeting. Don’t waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!
Now most people who dislike this book balk at the darkness of themes. There is extreme bullying, rape, and attempted suicides. That did not bother me as much as *spoiler* the neat wrapping up of the ending. The father has one dream decides to not kill himself and then makes a bit of software that solves all of Nao’s problems? That’s not really how it works man. *end spoiler*
In the end it is an alright book with some interesting themes that might let the reader confront some of their own dark thoughts in a safe environment. I just prefer it darker.