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Fifty Words for Rain

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  19,310 ratings  ·  2,260 reviews
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
Hardcover, 449 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Dutton
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Ann-marie Qualifications? That's a loaded word. Many writers write on subjects they have no personal knowledge. They are storytellers. I am relieved to see a bl…moreQualifications? That's a loaded word. Many writers write on subjects they have no personal knowledge. They are storytellers. I am relieved to see a black woman tackle a subject like Lemmee has. Should she have stayed in her "lane" and chosen a more stereotypical subject--single mom, poverty? Heck no! I haven't seen any interviews with the author but I have no doubt she has good answers to your weak questions.(less)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,310 ratings  ·  2,260 reviews

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Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book but came away from it unsatisfied and disappointed. It seems that I am in the minority on this as most readers seem to love it. I have a lot of personal knowledge of Japan because I spent ten years growing up in the country and my mother is Japanese american. At first I thought my problems with the book were unique to me and my knowledge of the language and culture and I was being too harsh. Lemmie overall does a good job with the Japanese vocabulary that she uses but ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
There are 50 words for rain, as Nori says to Akira once. Rain is a big deal for her:
“I like rain.”...
“That’s ridiculous. Nobody likes rain. Nobody ever says, ‘I wish it weren’t so sunny today.’”...
“You can’t hear sunshine from the attic,”
Harenochiame. Rain after a perfect, clear sky….
… hisame: cold rain, the kind that seeps into the air, and seeps into the house, and seeps into your bones. You can’t get warm no matter what you do. ...
Shinotsukuame. Relentless rain. Rain that would never st
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
I could easily come up with 50 words to describe this coming of age story and how it made me feel.
Instead I’ll do it in a few that quickly come to mind:
Traumatic. Enraging. Stunning. Enduring. Epic. Captivating.

It’s the early 1950’s and 8 year old Nori is abandoned at the front door of her grandparents in Kyoto.
She is a bastard child, an embarrassment to the wealthy family. She is tucked away in an attic and abused for not learning the Japanese subservient female behaviours.
Old culture threaded
Sep 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
If you enjoy cheesy soap operas with twists and turns that defy belief, then this is your book. It reads smoothly for the most part and has all the elements of human emotions that the author can fit in.

If you know anything about Japan, this book is going to aggravate the heck out of you. There is a reason why they say "Write what you know." Or at least do thorough research. There are so many mistakes, impossibilities, careless details and tropes in this book that I gave up on making a list. It's
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are so many people who grew up with hardship covering their entire lives. In the book, Fifty Words for Rain, by debut author, Asha Lemmie, we meet a young Japanese girl. The time period is after the war in Japan and Noriko "Nori" Kamiza's, an eight year old child, a product of a wealthy Japanese mother and a black G.I father who has to faced daily the repercussions of being a mixed race child.

Abandoned by her mother, forced to abide in the mansion's attic, given bleach baths to try and lig
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noriko is the product of a Japanese woman and African American man, born in Japan after WWII. After being dropped off at her grandmother’s house, Nori doesn’t understand why she has been abandoned by her mother. Put in the attic and shunned by her very traditional Japanese grandparents, Nori merely exists until her half brother, Akira, comes into the picture. The story gets more intense and it is hard to put down the book. Well written and an excellent piece of literary fiction, I recommend and ...more
First, thank you to NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is very reminiscent of other books I've read in the past, Flowers in the Attic comes to mind, as does White Oleander and Memoirs of a Geisha (with a dash of the movie Mommy Dearest, but not with wire hangers). I very much enjoyed the majority of the book, which follows Nori's journey from child with a strict upbringing to woman with emotional baggage to spare. I feel like the last 30% of
4.5 stars

This book was very nearly a 5 star read for me – that is, until the last 10 pages or so when I got to the ending, which frustrated me so much that my first reaction was wanting to throw the book against the wall (of course I didn’t do that, but only because I was reading on an electronic device and didn’t want to break it). I think part of the reason why I reacted so strongly to the ending was because, up to that point, I was so emotionally invested in the story and the characters that
Bethany Meyer
I really wanted to love this book, but it just read like a soap opera. I was rolling my eyes at the drama. Totally dramatic things seemed to happen for no reason and didn't affect the plot, literally just happened. Like, okay, put in that piece of drama, now time to move to the next one. Also, not sure why the author, who is not Japanese, felt the need to set it in Japan when it could have been set anywhere, because she doesn't pay much attention to Japanese culture anyway. Also, the other point ...more

Too often, people mistakenly believe that the analysis for “how many terrible things befall a protagonist?” is one and the same as “how much merit does this book have?” The more tragic the circumstances, the more “literary” the novel must be. There is beauty in suffering, many believe—especially if the sufferer is a woman. Because a corollary to this misconception is this: a woman’s tragic life is a stand-in for her own character growth. Women are forged by adv
Shana Zucker
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, audiobooks
The number of times that the protagonist “bit her lip, drawing blood” I’m shocked that she had lips by the end of the novel...

Everything went downhill with the last quarter of the book. And the ending contradicted the entire character development. Also not a fan of the nearly incestuous relationship with her brother.

This book has many rave reviews; I just am not seeing it.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, people of mixed race, people that love Japanese culture
Shelves: favorites
What an amazing read! How is this Asha Lemmie’s debut novel? I seriously could not put it down, the fastest and best read all year for me! It was such a beautiful and honest portrayal of Japanese culture and the honor of family during that time period. Your heart breaks for Nori and her eternal love for her half brother Akira. The description and detail are so vivid, you can see Nori sitting up in the tree reading her mother’s journals. You can hear Akira playing Ave Maria on his violin for Nori ...more
Candace Worrell
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was absolutely riveting; I read it in two days and any time not spent reading it was spent thinking about it. The ending stunned me, angered me, made me weep, and made absolute sense.
capture stories
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
"𝘿𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣. 𝘿𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙛𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩. 𝘿𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙨𝙩,"
𝙁𝙞𝙛𝙩𝙮 𝙒𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙍𝙖𝙞𝙣 introduces us to the old customs, lineage, and upper-class tradition back into Japan in 1948, post-WWII, that were prevalent and still held with dignity even when Japan was shifting into modern anarchy. There are fifty words to describe Rain in Japanese allegory to Nori's oppressive and abusive life.

Noriko Kamiza has a complicated mixed race and out of wedlock birth that places her in an odd and miserable position throughout her

The last words a mother says to her young daughter before abandoning her were,
"“Promise me. Promise me that you will obey in all things. Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist. Do not think if thinking will lead you somewhere you ought not to be. Only smile and do as you are told. Only your life is more important than your obedience. Only the air you breathe. Promise me this.”"
Kyoto 1948 and a young girl of mixed race is left on the doorstep of her grandparent's estate. We trace
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Even without the ending that I hoped for, it was such a good story.
Nicole (Bookiesandtea)
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fifty Words of Rain is a phenomenal, beautifully written novel by Asha Lemmie. From the very first chapter, I was drawn into the main protagonist Noriko Kamiza. Noriko is born into a prominent family being the cousins of the emperor. This means that her family has power and respect in Japan. However, one thing that alienates Noriko from the powerful family is that she is a half-breed born as a result of an affair between her mother, Seiko and her African American lover.

For a chance at a better
Habiba Hasabo
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-reads
*This free copy was given by Prhinternational and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I am so so happy after finishing this book, and I am in tears. I am overwhelmed and my emotions are all over the place. I am crying, I have been for most of the book though and they are ugly tears I tell you. I did not want this book to end, not this way. I had hope, how could Lemmie take it away?

I loved Nori, and she frustrated me. This girl had a life full of suffering, pain, beauty, hope and strengt
Nov 02, 2020 rated it did not like it

That being said, this book wasn’t very good to begin with. There was WAY too much going on. It seemed like the author was like “let’s throw in a car crash” “let’s make her pregnant” “let’s make her happy” “let’s make her not happy” . I hated this book, one of the worst I have read all year. I do not understand the hype.
A. Perez
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (and I'm glad I did!).

Fifty Words for Rain is a literary coming of age novel, historical fiction that couldn't be more timely.
Using the backdrop of a changing, Post WWII Japan, Lemmie examines race, family, and expectations (both familial and cultural) through the story of Nori, an unwanted girl of Japanese/Black background. Though the story begins with her locked in an attic, Nori's tale is an epic one, with her boundarie
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 very strong stars rounded up. I listened to the audiobook of Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie. It was read by Robin Eller, Siho Ellsmore, Katharine Jenna Yi, Sarah Skaer, Louis Ozawa, and Lee McEwan. It was hard to believe that this was Asha Lemmie’s debut novel. It was quite impressive. I found it very difficult to step aside from listening to this audiobook. The plot and characters were captivating. It was a very well researched historical fiction book that took place post World War II ...more
Justin Quinn
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Fifty Words for Rain" is a stunning entry into the historical fiction genre by a very talented, young author. To learn this was Lemmie's debut novel was dumbfounding, as I would have guessed this was the magnum opus of a much more seasoned writer. Her uncanny ability to capture vulnerability, and make the reader empathize with even the most heinous of characters, speaks to Lemmie's keen understanding of the human condition. You will laugh, you will cry, you will wince, and you will gasp, but no ...more
As a debut novel, congratulations to the author, it made it big time. As in kachink-kachink big time.

Emotionally potent and well plotted. A young girl ends up living with her grandparents after her mom dumps her at the front gate. Mom disappears. There's music and roses, but not for eight-year-old Norika Makiza. Summer of 1948, Kyoto Perfecture, Japan. Locked up in the attic of the grand old house, she is hidden from the world.

Three years later her half brother, Akira, arrives and life takes o
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
Such an enduring main character. 😱
Kim McGee
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would rename this book "Fifty Words For Brilliance", it is that moving. A Japanese girl with less than a desirable bloodline is left by her mother on the doorstep of her grandparent's Kyoto mansion.
Nori is taken in and confined to an attic jail, beaten for things she had no control of until her half brother comes to live there and rescues her. Nori is captivated by Akira, hungering for a morsel of attention and love. It is their relationship that saves her. Disaster strikes Nori time and time
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Now I have the worst book hangover in recent memory. I completely savored Fifty Words for Rain, I adored every word, but, like all good things, it eventually had to end, and this book is without a doubt a good thing. Wow, Asha Lemmie, you stunned me with your debut and the story of Nori Kamiza.

Nori’s life is tragic, heart wrenching, and lonely, but Nori is also full of hope and perseverance. She bends, but she doesn’t break, and there’s a lesson in that for all of us. In Nori’s own words: “The
“Fifty Words For Rain” by Asha Lemmie is an ambitious story of biracial girl in post WWII Japan. The story begins when Nori, at 8 years old, is left in front of her grandparent’s mansion with instructions from her mother, “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.” Nori is told if she obeys these rules, she will be fine. Well, that was a load of hog wash. As soon as Nori walks through the gates of her grandparent’s home she’s banished to the attic where she lives for years, never venturing o ...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved Asha Lemmie's epic debut and was surprised by the ending- was rooting for Nori as she faced challenges every step of the way. Full review to come on Book Nation by Jen. ...more
Neelam Babul
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fifty Words of Rain is a phenomenal, beautifully written and heartwarming novel by Asha Lemmie. From the very first chapter, I was engrossed in the story.

Noriko is born into a prominent and royal family. Her family is powerful and highly respected in Japan. However, one thing that alienates Noriko from the powerful family is that she is a half-breed born as a result of an affair between her mother, Seiko and her African American lover. For a chance at a better life, Seiko leaves Nori with her g
Erin Lorandos
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Asha Lemmie is the New York Times bestselling author of Fifty Words For Rain. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she relocated to New York City where she worked in book publishing. Asha writes historical fiction that focuses on bringing unique perspectives to life. In normal times, she divides her time between New York, London, and Kyoto. ...more

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“To love a child is the greatest terror there is. It’s a lifetime of worrying yourself sick over every move they make. It is a torture and an immense joy all at once.” 6 likes
“She would curl herself onto the couch and listen to him making paintings out of sound. And each piece was a different picture. In her mind’s eye, she could see a garden full of trees with white leaves and a fountain with blush-pink petals floating in the clear water—that was a concerto. The volta: scarlet and plum-colored ribbons winding around each other, battling for dominance. A requiem . . . a lone horse walking down a dimly lit cobbled road, looking for a rider that had died long ago. From these dead foreigners whose names she was slowly growing accustomed to, Nori was learning what it was to live a thousand lifetimes of joy and sorrow without ever leaving this house.” 4 likes
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