If you would like to read something absolutely wild, go ahead and pick up this book. I knew it was going to be dark going in, and maybe it’s just because I don’t read all that many books that could truly be described as “dark,” but this was DARK. But also, it somehow managed to avoid being bleak? I think it was because it was so audacious. I just kept thinking the whole time I was reading it, WHAT. SHE DID WHAT NOW. (She being the author, who used to be a teacher, which is important for context.) And then I forgot to be freaked out.
I’m not going to say much about the plot because it would ruin it for you. I want to preserve those WHAT moments for you. But I do want to talk about how it starts, which is with a middle school teacher making a final lecture to her seventh grade students. It’s written entirely as if we are hearing only her words, and not the students’ responses. This creates this strange atmosphere where you feel you FEEL something coming, and it’s this creeping dread hiding among absolute banality, and then the teacher’s story starts to unfold, and things that seem random and unrelated all come together. I almost could have just put the book down at the end of that first chapter. It felt complete. And then it kept going!
This is a revenge tale and a psychological thriller, but it also explores the darker urges of the human psyche beyond that. It plays with perspective and reader expectations. It’s a pretty short read, but very effective with that length.
Note, I’m American and obviously not Japanese, so I’m sure there were nuances I missed. Also, Japanese culture does influence the course of the story; I think things might have played out differently if this were set somewhere else.
Read Harder Challenge 2019: A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman.