From debut author Asha Lemmie, a sweeping, heartrending coming-of-age novel about a young woman’s quest for acceptance in post–World War II Japan.
Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “If a woman knows nothing else, she should know how to be silent. . . . Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.” Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her shameful skin.
The illegitimate child of a Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Though her grandparents take her in, they do so only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life for what it is, despite her natural intellect and nagging curiosity about what lies outside the attic’s walls. But when chance brings her legitimate older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him the first person who will allow her to question, and the siblings form an unlikely but powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.
Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to try to break free.
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I appreciated the premise of this one. I think those looking for a story to immerse themselves in, ones that capture the deep soul of both joy and pain, and embracing the conflicting feelings in between may enjoy reading this one.
I was quite captivated by certain aspects of it.
My interest was a bit overshadowed however by lots of detail. Detail that was overdramatized. Every moment was drawn out. So much so that it became over melodramatic. It was like this dramatic pause, but an extended dramatic pause that never picks up or ends throughout the entire book.
Rich but I felt a bit contrived as it went on rather than a lived experience. Definitely not a redemption story or peaceful aspect and I kind of hoped for that.
I felt conflicted at points because the delicate parts felt hearty which was superbly lovely to sink into but I felt I could never come out of it and that there was so much tragedy and despair that it overshadowed any highlights of childhood, innocence, love, or hope.
There was this certain emoting of time and distance through tragic events that was soul satisfying and I’d enjoy exploring more of that in smaller portions amongst certain characters.
The insight and aptitude of circumstances doesn’t feel age or life stage appropriate.
Repeated gestures like lip biting became less overwrought because the expression was overused.
I was immersed initially, but eventually I skipped around a bit until the end and I didn’t feel like I missed much of the punch so to speak.
Ultimately felt like a lot of backstory.
There was an over abundance of color adjectives, especially in the first chapter.
Some of the sentence structure felt forced and less natural, especially for the life stage and age of the characters, made it feel more outside looking in.
Multiple tense and tone, while also being this sort of monotonous underlying tone made me less connected to the characters.
I’d love to explore more from this author.
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