This book started off brilliantly. The dual narration was beautifully done, the characters both in the past and present were interesting, both living in worlds that were strange to everything they loved and wanted. The symbiosis between Ruth and Nao grows at the right pace, just in time for you to be swept along with it.
The nature of mental illness and suicidal feelings are explored well, and I particularly like the author’s ability to write about the effect this has on close family. Combined with the Japanese culture, this was pursued in authentic and poignant way; one which as a reader I was thankful for.
However through this, Nao’s character bothered me. She was annoying, bordering on a caricature of ‘the troubled teen.’ The plot was enough pull me past this for the first half of the novel, but then it jumped ship. It became almost a cautionary tale, how a nice normal teenager was lead down the wrong path. Which is such a shame, when the novel started out so well.
Perhaps if this had been done with more subtlety or without clichés, it would have worked. It is a beautifully written novel, and worth a read if you have the time. But it’s not top of my favourite list.