Monday, November 16, 2020

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan


When I was in high school, I started getting into literary fiction because I thought that was what you had to read to be "smart." From there, I got really interested in Asian literature, and one of my favorite authors to read back then was Banana Yoshimoto. Her trademark style of dreamy, wistful tragedies was just so compelling to teen me, and I haven't really found an author that came close... UNTIL NOW.

For some reason, I had gotten it into my head that I wouldn't like Clarissa Goenawan's work. I must have seen a friend's review that put me off. But when an ARC was extended my way, I accepted greedily because such is the nature of me, Queen Trashcan. I will read pretty much anything because I'm always willing to be surprised. And this. Was such. A surprise! Like, reading it instantly transported me back to the angsty high school/college days of yore, being an awkward teen ridiculed with uncertainties, paying more attention to the environment than to the people because I didn't like the people...

It was transportive, basically.

THE PERFECT WORLD OF MIWAKO SUMIDA may sound all cute and adorable because of the title and cover, but it's actually a very dark story. When Miwako, the main character, goes missing, her three surviving friends, Ryusei, Fumi, and Chie, decide to find out what happened to her. They find out that she committed suicide, and even though the stories revolve around that, the book is less about her death than about her friends discovering themselves and learning who they want to be as adults. Ryusei's was the story that felt most "Yoshimoto" to me, but Chie's was probably my favorite because she reminded me so much of me. Fumi's story was the weakest because the author introduced a magic-realism element with her character arc that didn't really quite work with the rest of the story, in my opinion.

Overall, though, this is really, REALLY good and I want to check out RAINBIRDS now, as well as whatever else this author writes. I think you'll especially like this book if you've ever traveled to Japan because it mentions several places I've actually been to in my travels, which gave this book an extra level of depth. Definitely recommend if you enjoy books that are well-written and a little tragic.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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