I generally would say I come across as a pretty stoic guy, but when I think about this book or hear the song it is named for now, I kinda almost cry....moreI generally would say I come across as a pretty stoic guy, but when I think about this book or hear the song it is named for now, I kinda almost cry. This novel really hit close to home for me on a lot of points, and it made the way it ends all the more affecting. I finished this only a few days ago but I'm giving serious consideration to reading it again within the next few weeks.
The story is pretty simple: It is 1969 in Japan, and Toru is in love with Naoko. They share a tragic past that binds them together. Unfortunately, Naoko is forced to live in a home for people with mental disorders (due to what is obviously severe depression). They try to make it work anyway, with Toru going to visit her whenever he can (although it is rarely). Meanwhile, Toru meets a spunky-cute-slightly-narcissistic girl named Midori who he finds himself having feelings for, and in the end he is forced to choose between two loves.
That blurb makes it sound like a Hallmark movie but it really isn't like that at all. It is a deeply sad but brilliant novel, and I would say my very favorite bildungsroman ever, unseating The Catcher in the Rye in my heart from a position it has held since freshman year of high school. Murakami's characters always strike me as so vivid; I always feel like I know who they are when I'm reading the novel, which makes me more invested in how things actually turn out. I even found some of the relatively minor characters endearing, especially Reiko, the roommate to Naoko at the home.
Basically this book broke my heart but being a bit of an emotional masochist I'm going to go back for more anyway. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever felt like they could connect with a story that doesn't have sci-fi or fantasy elements. It's just fiction, no aliens, no fairies, just a beautiful story.(less)