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Fifty Words for Rain

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,824 ratings  ·  746 reviews
From debut author Asha Lemmie, a sweeping, heartrending coming-of-age novel about a young woman's quest for acceptance in postWorld 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, 464 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…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)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Angela Johnson I don't think it was ever said, what she ended up naming him. One can only assume it was Akira. No other name would have as much impact.

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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
There are 50 words for rain, as Nori says to Akira once. Rain is a big deal for her:
I like rain....
Thats ridiculous. Nobody likes rain. Nobody ever says, I wish it werent so sunny today....
You cant 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 cant get warm no matter what you do. ...
Shinotsukuame. Relentless rain. Rain that would never stop. (c)

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 grandmothers house, Nori doesnt 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
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
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 Lemmies 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 mothers journals. You can hear Akira playing Ave Maria on his violin for Nori. ...more
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
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.

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
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
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Even without the ending that I hoped for, it was such a good story.
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
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
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 ...more
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 grandparents 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 grandparents home shes banished to the attic where she lives for years, never venturing outside, ...more
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
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 ...more
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.

Noris life is tragic, heart wrenching, and lonely, but Nori is also full of hope and perseverance. She bends, but she doesnt break, and theres a lesson in that for all of us. In Noris own words: There has
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
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.
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.
Annissa Joy Armstrong
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible debut novel by Asha Lemmie!! A riveting story of family, love, loss and so much more!! Loved this book!!
Emi Bevacqua
Fictional account of the once noble Kamiza line, tied to Japan's Imperial family by blood and appointed titles, but sunken to ignobility due to excessive wealth and corruption. Told mostly through the eyes of half-blood Noriko, born in 1940 to mother Seiko Kamiza and a black American GI. Seiko fell from grace by abandoning her husband Yasuei Todou and first-born son Akira, for her new life and baby, and then compounded her shame by abandoning Nori with her champagne colored eyes and coffee ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: highly-recommend
I read the first few pages online and I was hooked. I went out and bought it soon after. First off, I have to say the writing was absolutely beautiful. The way Lemmie wrote makes you slow down and savour her word choices. Even her descriptions of weather and the garden were stunning and felt purposeful in the plot. The characters were realistic and even the supposed "evil" characters were brought to understanding and allowed for the reader to truly comprehend their characterization, and possibly ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much to Netgalley + Dutton Books for this gifted e-book!
5 Stars!!!
This book was everything I wanted and more. I felt a range of emotions in this novel- and I truly think that is what makes a book great. I found myself drawn to Noriko and cared for her so much as a character- when she cried, I wanted to cry. When she was joyful, I was joyful. She showed so much strength, resilience yet kept a childlike wonder throughout the novel. The things that Nori went through broke my heart,
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2point5-2020
VC Andrews in historical Japan. Which isn't a bad thing; there's a reason she's so popular that she's still relevant after decades of ghostwritten imitations of her style.

One issue I have is that while Nori is the protagonist and narrator most of the time, there are many little sections scattered throughout of other POVs. I always err on the side of fewer perspectives unless totally necessary, and here most of them come across as filler or the author not feeling confident that the
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Once you begin this book, it is hard to not be swept up into this enveloping narrative. Niko, an 8 year old Japanese child is a product of an illegitimate affair or a woman of Japanese royalty and an African American GI officer in the post world war II. I dare you to read this without your heart strings tugging . As a child she was taught to acquiese ,to not have opinions, and to obey orders at all costs. When her mother abandons her, she is sent to her haughty grandmother who houses her to ...more
Kathleen Gray
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's the late 1940s and Nori's mother leaves the 8 year old at her grandmother's house and disappears, leaving Nori with only hair ribbons to remember her. Her grandmother, a cousin of the Emperor, is ashamed of the half Japanese-half African American, not only because of her race but also because she is the product of adultery. Nori is locked up in the attic, in a room where the windows are boarded up, with only a maid to be even the least bit kind. Then, miracle of miracles, her half brother ...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 believeespecially if the sufferer is a woman. Because a corollary to this misconception is this: a womans tragic life is a stand-in for her own character growth. Women are forged by adversity,
Fifty Words for Rain was a lovely, rainy read. . . .during a lovely, rainy autumn in the Pacific Northwest. I was captured by the difficulties Nori (main character) faced with such a stoic manner. It baffled me, but as each new turn and twist was revealed, it became clear that she was never allowed to dream or even think of her life's horizon.

The love of her brother was my favorite part of this book - to watch their relationship, with its ups and downs was a pleasure. Making the story even
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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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