Ken's Reviews > The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa
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's review
Apr 29, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: really-good-stories
Recommended for: any one looking for a good story.
Read in May, 2009

This book is a solid 4.5. In it, Yoko Ogawa presents a first-person story told by the (unnamed) Housekeeper and her relationship with the (unnamed) mathematics Professor. The third major character is her son, nicknamed Root by the Professor because the top of his head is flat, like a square root sign.

The twist in the story is that, due to an auto accident in 1975, the Professor's memory only lasts 80 minutes, after which his mind resets and everything that happened after 1975 is forgotten. As a result, the Professor can remember mathematical concepts and theories, but each day when the Housekeeper arrives at his house, he is meeting her for the first time.

Through the story, the Professor teaches the Housekeeper and Root about mathematics and the elegance of numbers. And while the friendships between all of the characters grow, the Professor's memory creates a distance that (perhaps) cannot be overcome. At its heart, Ogawa's book is about relationships between people and, ultimately, what defines a family.

I looked back at my Goodreads list, and I would say that this has been my favorite book of those that I have read this year.

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