31 January 2015

On The Shelf: The Lake

Disclaimer: The content ahead may or may not contain spoilers for the said book. Any opinions or thoughts are personal, neither the author nor the seller has any influence in this review.

While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written.

It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though... until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.

They eventually embark on a hesitant romance, until she learns that he has been the victim of some form of childhood trauma. Visiting two of his friends who live a monastic life beside a beautiful lake, she begins to piece together a series of clues that lead her to suspect his experience may have had something to do with a bizarre religious cult....

With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written. And as the two young lovers overcome their troubled past to discover hope in the beautiful solitude of the lake in the country- side, it’s also one of her most moving.

- Synopsis taken from Goodreads

As much as it was tough to be in the shoes of Chihiro, being rejected in silence by paternal relatives, it was relieving to know her family had acquired the skill to be self sufficient emotionally despite not being recognised in the eyes of the law. For her to finally get out of hometown and subconsciously learning what independence without her mother really is like, knowing Nakajima at this phase of life seems to be so right. Learning about the awful past of Nakajima and understanding more of his present self kind of make Chihiro appreciate the goodness in hers even more.

I strongly believe hiding something such big awful past was not easy for Nakajima. At least it won't be easy for me, in fact I'll live in dilemma everyday. If it is something I am avoiding mentally, why should I share it with the rest of the world? Besides, telling might scare that someone who anchors my life away. It might be selfish of Nakajima, but I believe he would do the same thing if he had to do it all over again.

The characters of Mino and Chii did concern me a little. I was a little skeptical on whether Chii can really speak to Mino like that, using him as a form of vessel to communicate.

Banana Yoshimoto's writing style for this book is one I have never encountered before, it sure was refreshing for me. I was glad I didn't give up reading the book in the first few pages because the introduction and initial build up were a little draggy for my case. Finishing the book made me hope Paris did both of them good and they ended up being that weird-but-perfect family.

Oh, also, I'll admit about wishing to try a cup or two of the tea made by Mino.

This is a book review written for Book Club discussion by Dreams, etc. See how others think of this book!

Would you have hidden an awful past if in the shoes of Nakajima?


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