I read "The Lake" by Banana Yoshimoto last month for the Dreams, Etc. Book Club (click here to join!). It's a book that is difficult to describe, but I will try my best.
First, the synopsis from Goodreads:
"It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though ... until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.
They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre religious cult. . . .
With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the country- side, it’s also one of her most moving."
For me, "The Lake" was part mystery, part romance (sort of), with a little bit of supernatural thrown in, too. It was very slow at the beginning and it took me a while to figure out where the story was going, but after about 1/3 of the book, it started to pick up and I became fascinated. Japanese culture is already so intriguing to me, so I would like to read more about it. I like when books inspire me to do research on new topics.
The relationship between Chihiro and Nakajima is a little strange. Not only because of the way they met - locking eyes while looking out their respective windows - but also in the way they interact. It's a very dependent relationship, but yet, distant in a way. Nakajima suffered a traumatic experience when he was young, but cannot discuss it with Chihiro, which leaves her to imagine all sorts of things.
I really enjoyed the message of hope in the book. Chihiro's relationship with her father improving. Chihiro coming to terms with her mother's death. Chihiro's relationship with Nakajima also improving and moving to a place of trust and closeness. And of course the ending - I won't spoil it, but it ends on a really positive note, which is a striking contrast to the darkness of the rest of the story.
These are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
- "Recognizing how totally ignorant you are is the only honest way to deal with people who've been through something traumatic."
- "Everything in life has some good in it. And when something awful happens, the goodness stands out even more - it's sad, but that's the truth."
- "Why were we so far apart, even when we were together? It was a nice loneliness, like the sensation of washing your face in cold water."
I really enjoyed it, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Have you read "The Lake" or any of Banana Yoshimoto's other works? Also, check out this review from Crystal from Dreams, Etc.
P.S. Don't forget to join us on Feb 25th for the next Write or Die Wednesdays writer's link up. The prompt this week is a quote from Stephen King (below). Happy Writing!