Book Chat’s Rating: ☆☆☆☆/5

I picked up this book because the cover is too cute to pass, expected it to be a light read. It was an easy and light reading (in term of speed), but it also has one of the weirdest characters I’ve met.

Keiko Furukura has always been a strange child, and her family is worried how she would survive in real world (I think they are more worried how people around her would be able to survive with her nonchalant unfiltered remarks and carefully planned action). She lives by herself, and has been working at a convenience store for the past 16 years without complaints, and more enthusiastic than any co-worker she has had. She does sound like a Japanese Eleanor Oliphant from a book I’ve just finished reading before this. Keiko thinks she is abnormal because her family implies so, she does not know what is wrong with her but she knows she needs to be cured. So in order to live a “normal” life, she copies everyone around her, from their appearances to their opinions. Her life is a mirror of people around her. And so long as she blends in the “normal” background of the village, she is completely fine. (Here I am borrowing the terminology from Eleanor Oliphant again.)

That is, until, Shiraha, a lazy loser appeared in her life. I too, just like everyone else in the novel, think Shiraha is such a creepy freak, and a loser. Although he would say that that is because my bias has been formed since pre-historic period, just like my ancestors, and everyone else. That my social conformity has made me think that man and woman should has specific role, etc. To be normal we need to have a job, be married, have children, etc. (yes they do! at least for the having a job part). I rolled my eyes with his actions, but I do find his laziness quite brilliant, sometimes I wish to be like him, just living off of someone (how easier life would be!). And really, only someone like Keiko can deal with him without kicking him to the curb. I chuckled as she calls him her pet, letting him stay in the bathroom of her apartment. Because of his character, I like Keiko’s character even more dearly, I do wish she could be less restrained by social norms.

There is certainly some social comment about the current world, about how we all try to fit into a mold, for fear of rejection from standing out. When we are around others, we are “infecting each other” to “maintain ourselves as human”. But how do we break out of this vicious circle with being the social animal as we are? “The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of.” That is quite some thinking that such a little book can provoke.

Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Grove Press (first published July 2016)
Translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori