Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

“If a woman knows nothing else, she should know how to be silent. . . . Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”

Oh my, but this is a beautifully written novel. I savored every word of it, and as soon as I read the last page I wanted to open the book up to the first page. I read it too fast and gave myself a case of book hangover.

Fifty Words for Rain is set in post WW2 Kyoto Japan. It follows the life of Noriko ‘Nori’ Kamiza. She has always lived with her mother, but when she is a eight her mother drops Nori off at an estate, and she never sees her mother again. It turns out Nori’s mother is daughter of an aristocrat family who had a love child with a Black American soldier.

Nori is treated terribly by her shamed grandmother. She is fed and clothed and kept in nice suite of rooms. The rooms are the attic however, and Nori is kept locked away. She is also force to take horrifyingly painful baths in bleach to lighten her skin. Ugh, several times throughout the story I wanted to knock her grandmother upside the head!

When Nori’s legitimate half-brother, Akira, comes home from school her life starts to change for the better, a little at least. She is allowed to go beyond the confines of her attic rooms and even allowed to explore the grounds.

Throughout Nori’s life Akira looks out for her, and she looks out for him. He does his best to improve her life, but her happiness always seems to snatched away at the last minute.

This is not a cheery, bright, end wrapped up in a neat little bow story. But, as I said, it is a beautiful written novel, sometimes achingly so. In Nori’s family honor and responsibility trump everything, including happiness.

5/5 stars

(Not so) Happy Reading Y’all,

Bookish Wendy

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