I heard about this book from Book of the Month. The premise sounded so intriguing to me. I love any book that has to do with Japan and Japanese culture so when I saw that this book dealt with what it's like being half-Japanese and what happens when a murder takes place within the country, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the execution was poorly done.
I thought Kelly Luce had a beautiful writing style. I did like that her depictions of the area in Japan sounded beautiful. However, that's where my admiration ends. I has a problem with how she described Japanese people. Yes, I know that Japan is not some holy land with kind people all around. But Luce made it sound like the majority of people in Japan treated foreigners as less than human with maybe three people being the exception. Where as America treated Asians a lot more kindly. Which, if you know anything about history, you know that isn't the case. I just didn't like how Luce painted this picture of how America was somehow better than Japan. It left a disgusting taste in my mouth. No country is better than another. We have different ways of life and that's it.
Another problem I had with the book was the main character. The story was promising enough when it focused on Chizuru Akitani, but when she moved to the States and changed her name to Rio Silvestri, the story took a dip. I found "Chizuru" and her struggles a lot more interesting than "Rio." Rio was a self-absorbed, dimwitted, exercised-obsessed woman. She forced what she wanted onto people and made so many stupid mistakes that a forty-year-old woman should know better about. Plus, I felt like a lot of the problems she faced in Japan as an adult happened because she wanted it to happen... then she has the nerve to complain about it the entire time.
If the book had focused more on Chizuru and her past, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. If Luce didn't let her biases into the story about Japan being a certain way, I definitely would have enjoyed the book more. If the main character wasn't so self-absorbed and didn't make such stupid decisions, this book would have been amazing. But no. This book was one of the biggest disappointments I've read this year because I was so excited to read it. I really thought I was going to love this book.
If you're still curious about it, go ahead and give it a read. You may like it more than I did. There's sexual assault, bullying, murder, suicide, and child negligence so keep that in mind with picking up this book. Hopefully, you end enjoying it.