It’s not often I find a novel that actually takes my breath away. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN did just that. And then some.
The novel is set in Japan and begins in 1948 in Kyoto. Nori is eight years old when her mother drops her off in front of an estate, then takes off down the street at breakneck speed. Nori is left standing in front of a gate with a letter in her hand. The letter is supposed to introduce her to her grandparents. She’s officially been abandoned. And so this remarkable debut novel begins.
Nori is a half black child born illegitimately to a mother who was Japanese royalty. Nori’s mother left her husband and young son to be with her American born black GI father. They never married. And now Nori is in the clutches of her evil grandmother who is determined to keep her hidden away in the attic and away from public eyes. Nori is subjected to excruciatingly painful bleach baths in hopes of lightening her dark skin. She’s routinely beaten by a grandmother who is only interested in saving “face.” Saving her royal family name from disgrace. It is utterly unnerving to read.
When Akira, Nori’s half brother, comes to live with the family, Nori finds a kindred soul and finally begins to come alive. Akira is going to be the heir to all the family owns. He is so beautifully talented and his skills with the violin are becoming legendary. Nori begins to learn about music . And grandmother becomes incensed to watch this closeness. It must end.
I knew next to nothing of this remarkable story when I began this novel. I’m so glad that is how I read it. I feel it will take away too much to go into any detail about the story. So my review will be short.
The gorgeousness of the story and the beauty of the prose only enhance the experience. You will find yourself turning the pages at the speed of light only to slow yourself to prolong the story.
Nori will live in my mind forever. What she endures is beyond the limits of reality. Living with the knowledge that everything bad that happens to you and your loved ones is your fault was her fate.
I love novels that truly move me. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN by Asha Lemmie
is one of those novels. You simply must add it to your must-read list. Right now.
FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN is now available in a trade paperback version. Perfect for your upcoming summertime reading enjoyment.