I'm doing this experiment where I'm rereading the books from my adolescence as part of this project. When I was in high school, I went through this phase where I was OBSESSED with Banana Yoshimoto. Lucky me, I found my trove of old books in the garage while cleaning it a few weeks ago, so I'm giving a lot of my old faves a reread to see which are worth keeping and which should be passed on to someone else.
One of the reasons I love Banana Yoshimoto's books is that they have a dreamy, introspective wistfulness to them. Sometimes this makes them really slow but when you really like the characters, it's a bit like reading one of your old school diaries. It's all very internally focused and everything kind of shimmers softly because you haven't become jaded yet. All of her books are like that, even with adult characters.
Because they are so introspective, though, they aren't really all that fun if you don't like the characters because they're almost entirely character-driven and don't really have a lot of action. That was the case with me for GOODBYE, TSUGUMI. Maria is bland and Tsugumi is a manipulative sociopath. Neither of them are particularly likable and their friendship really didn't make sense to me. I seem to remember being ambivalent about this one as a teen but rating it higher because she was my ultimate favorite author. I think in my teens, I gave this a three. Now it's getting a two.
1.5 to 2 out of 5 stars