The first major English translation of one of contemporary Japan's bestselling and most celebrated authors
From Akutagawa Award-winning author Yoko Ogawa comes a haunting trio of novellas about love, fertility, obsession, and how even the most innocent gestures may contain a hairline crack of cruel intent.
A lonely teenage girl falls in love with her foster brother as she watches him leap from a high diving board into a poola peculiar infatuation that sends unexpected ripples through her life.
A young woman records the daily moods of her pregnant sister in a diary, taking meticulous note of a pregnancy that may or may not be a hallucinationbut whose hallucination is it, hers or her sister's?
A woman nostalgically visits her old college dormitory on the outskirts of Tokyo, a boarding house run by a mysterious triple amputee with one leg.
Hauntingly spare, beautiful, and twisted, The Diving Pool is a disquieting and at times darkly humorous collection of novellas about normal people who suddenly discover their own dark possibilities.
About the Author
Yoko Ogawa's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and Zoetrope. Since 1988 she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, and has won every major Japanese literary award. Her books include The Housekeeper and the Professor, Revenge, and The Diving Pool.
Stephen Snyder teaches Japanese literature at Middlebury College. His translations include works by Kzaburo Oe, Ryu Murakami, Natsuo Kirino, and Miri Yu.
Read an Excerpt
THE DIVING POOL
It’s always warm here: I feel as though I’ve been swallowed by a huge animal. After a few minutes, my hair, my eyelashes, even the blouse of my school uniform are damp from the heat and humidity, and I’m bathed in a moist film that smells vaguely of chlorine.
Far below my feet, gentle ripples disrupt the pale blue surface of the water. A constant stream of tiny bubbles rises from the diving well; I can’t see the bottom. The ceiling is made of glass and is very high. I sit here, halfway up the bleachers, as if suspended in midair.
Jun is walking out on the ten-meter board. He’s wearing the rust-colored swimsuit I saw yesterday on the drying rack outside the window of his room. When he reaches the end of the board, he turns slowly; then, facing away from the water, he aligns his heels. Every muscle in his body is tensed, as if he were holding his breath. The line of muscle from his ankle to his thigh has the cold elegance of a bronze statue.
Sometimes I wish I could describe how wonderful I feel in those few seconds from the time he spreads his arms above his head, as if trying to grab hold of something, to the instant he vanishes into the water. But I can never find the right words. Perhaps it’s because he’s falling through time, to a place where words can never reach.
“Inward two-and-a-half in the tuck position,” I murmur.
He misses the dive. His chest hits the water with a smack and sends up a great spray of white.
But I enjoy it just the same, whether he misses a dive or hits it perfectly with no splash. So I never sit here hoping for a good dive, and I am never disappointed by a bad one. Jun’s graceful body cuts through these childish emotions to reach the deepest place inside me.
He reappears out of the foam, the rippling surface of the water gathering up like a veil around his shoulders; and he swims slowly toward the side of the pool.
I’ve seen pictures from underwater cameras. The frame is completely filled with deep blue water, and then the diver shoots down, only to turn at the bottom and kick off back toward the surface. This underwater pivot is even more beautiful than the dive itself: the ankles and hands slice through the water majestically, and the body is completely enclosed in the purity of the pool. When the women dive, their hair flutters underwater as though lifted in a breeze, and they all look so peaceful, like children doing deep-breathing exercises.
One after the other, the divers come slipping into the water, making their graceful arcs in front of the camera. I would like them to move more slowly, to stay longer, but after a few seconds their heads appear again above the surface.
Does Jun let his body float free at the bottom of the pool, like a fetus in its mother’s womb? How I’d love to watch him to my heart’s content as he drifts there, utterly free.
I spend a lot of time on the bleachers at the edge of the diving pool. I was here yesterday and the day before, and three months ago as well. I’m not thinking about anything or waiting for something; in fact, I don’t seem to have any reason to be here at all. I just sit and look at Jun’s wet body.
We’ve lived under the same roof for more than ten years, and we go to the same high school, so we see each other and talk any number of times every day. But it’s when we’re at the pool that I feel closest to Jun—when he’s diving, his body nearly defenseless in only a swimsuit, twisting itself into the laid-out position, the pike, the tuck. Dressed in my neatly ironed skirt and freshly laundered blouse, I take my place in the stands and set my schoolbag at my feet. I couldn’t reach him from here even if I tried.
Yet this is a special place, my personal watchtower. I alone can see him, and he comes straight to me.
I pass the shops near the station and turn from the main road onto the first narrow street heading south, along the tracks. The noise and bustle die away. It’s May now, and even when I reach the station after Jun’s practice, the warmth of the day lingers in the air.
After I pass the park—little more than a sandbox and a water fountain—the company dormitory, and the deserted maternity clinic, there’s nothing to see but rows of houses. It takes more than twenty-five minutes to walk home, and along the way the knot of people who left the station with me unravels and fades away with the sunlight. By the end, I’m usually alone.
A low hedge runs along the side of the road. It eventually gives way to trees, and then the cinder-block wall, half covered with ivy, comes into view. In the places where the ivy doesn’t grow, the wall has turned moss green, as if the blocks themselves were living things. Then the gate, standing wide open, held back by a rusted chain that seems to prevent it from ever being closed.
In fact, I have never seen it closed. It’s always open, ready to welcome anyone who comes seeking God in a moment of trouble or pain. No one is ever turned away, not even me.
Next to the gate is a glass-covered notice board with a neon light, and on it is posted the Thought for the Week: WHO IS MORE PRECIOUS? YOU OR YOUR BROTHER? WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD, AND YOU MUST NEVER TREAT YOUR BROTHER AS A STRANGER. Every Saturday afternoon, my father spends a long time looking through the Bible before carefully grinding ink on his stone and writing out this Thought. The smell of the ink permeates the old box where he keeps his brushes and grinding stone. He pours a few drops from the tiny water pot into the well of the stone, and then, holding the ink stick very straight, he grinds the stick into a dark liquid. Only when he finishes this long process does he finally dip his brush. Each gesture is done slowly, almost maddeningly so, as if he were performing a solemn ritual, and I am always careful to creep quietly past his door to avoid disturbing him.
Attracted to the neon light, countless tiny insects crawl on the notice board among my father’s perfectly formed characters. At some point, evening has turned to night. The darkness inside the gate seems even thicker than outside, perhaps due to the dense foliage that grows within. Trees are planted at random along the wall, their branches tangled and overgrown. The front yard is covered in a thick jumble of weeds and flowers.
In this sea of green, two massive ginkgo trees stand out against the night sky. Every autumn, the children put on work gloves to gather the nuts. As the oldest, Jun climbs up on one of the thick branches and shakes the tree, and then the younger children run around frantically amid the hail of nuts and dried yellow leaves. Passing near the trees always makes me think of the soft skins surrounding the nuts, squashed like caterpillars on the soles of the children’s shoes, and of the horrible odor they spread through the house.
To the left of the ginkgo trees is the church, and at an angle beyond, connected by a covered corridor, the building we call the Light House. This is my home.
The pale blue moisture I absorbed in the stands at the pool has evaporated by the time I reach here; my body is dry and hollow. And it is always the same: I can never simply come home the way other girls do. I find myself reading the Thought for the Week, passing through the gate, entering the Light House—and something always stops me, something always seems out of place.
Sometimes, as I approach, the Light House appears fixed and acute, while I, by contrast, feel vague and dim. At other times, I feel almost painfully clear and sharp, while the Light House is hazy. Either way, there is always something irreconcilable between the house and me, something I can never get past.
This was my home. My family was here. Jun, too. I remind myself of these facts each time I surrender to the curtain of green and open the door of the Light House.
When I try to put my memories in some kind of order, I realize that the earliest ones are the clearest and most indelible.
It was a brilliant morning in early summer. Jun and I were playing by the old well in the backyard. The well had been filled in long before and a fig tree planted over it. We must have been four or five years old, so it was soon after Jun had come to live at the Light House. His mother had been a chronic alcoholic, and he had been born out of wedlock, so one of our loyal parishioners had brought him to us.
I had broken off a branch from the fig tree and was watching the opalescent liquid ooze from the wound. When I touched it, the sticky emission clung to my finger. I broke another branch.
“Time for milky!” I said to Jun.
I made him sit on my lap, and I wrapped an arm around his shoulders as I brought the branch to his lips. Nothing about Jun’s body then hinted at the muscular form later shining in the transparent water of the pool. My arms remember only the softness of an ordinary small child. Like a baby at the breast, he pursed his lips and made little chirping sounds, even wrapping his hands around mine as if he were clutching a bottle. The milk of the fig had a bitter, earthy smell.
I felt myself suddenly overcome by a strange and horrible sensation. It might have been the fig milk or the softness of Jun’s body bringing it on, but that seemed to be the beginning—though I suppose it’s possible this terrible feeling took hold of me even earlier, before I was even born.
I broke a thicker branch with more milk and smeared it against his mouth. He knit his brow and licked his lips, and at that moment the sunlight becomes intensely bright, the scene blurs to white, and my oldest memory comes to an end.
Since that time, I’ve had many similar moments, and I can never hear the words “family” and “home” without feeling that they sound strange, never simply hear them and let them go. When I stop to examine them, though, the words seem hollow, seem to rattle at my feet like empty cans.
Excerpted from The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa.
Copyright © 1991 by Yoko Ogawa.
Published in 1991 by Picador.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Table of Contents
The Diving Pool1
Reading Group Guide
About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about The Diving Pool are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach The Diving Pool.
1. Food is not always a source of nourishment in The Diving Pool – often it plays a more malevolent role. In "Pregnancy Diaries", the diarist imagines she is killing her sister's embryo by feeding her grapefruit jam with chromosome-altering pesticides; in "Diving Pool," the narrator knowingly feeds a rotten cream puff to a little girl and sends her to the hospital. To what effect is Ogawa using food to heighten the menace of her stories. And what does it say about the characters that their chosen method of aggression is to poison? Does "Dormitory" have a different take on food?
2. The narrator of "The Diving Pool" has a cruel streak. Why does she place Rie in the jar and then take pleasure in listening to her cry? Is she simply evil, or is the act in some way connected to her feelings for Jun? Did you feel more or less sympathy for the narrator at that moment, and how did your sympathies shift throughout the story?
3. Ogawa's female protagonists each live relatively isolated lives, and they are also quite secretive. Is Ogawa lamenting the impossibility of one person to ever really understand another, or is isolation a problem particular to just these narrators?
4. The pregnant sister sees a therapist, Dr. Nikaido; but her sister does not seem entirely sane either. Are they both a little out of their minds, or is Ogawa just distorting the point of view to make them seem that way? Is pregnancy itself, with all of its physical and psychological effects, a form of temporary insanity? Did you think that M Clinic resembled an insane asylum?
5. "Pregnancy Diaries" is a dark story, but also darkly comic. Is it okay to express ambivalence about pregnancy?
6. The narrator in "Diving Pool" has a crush on her foster brother, and it seems to completely consume her. Is this what it's like to be a teenager, when emotions are at such a high pitch, and every gesture of affection or discontent seems to move us to extremes? What is Ogawa saying about life as a teenager in this story? Do those feelings necessarily go away in adulthood?
7. Why does the narrator of "Dormitory" throw so much energy into helping her cousin? Does she perhaps have a romantic attachment to him. Is she simply lonely? Or does she see her cousin as a surrogate child? Is Ogawa hinting that the narrator is infertile?
8. The man who runs the dormitory is a triple amputee, who nonetheless can open doors, prepare a pot of tea, hold down a job, and have a life. How would you manage under similar circumstances?
9. Why does Ogawa withhold the story of how the dormitory manager lost his limbs? Did you assume he was born that way? Does it matter? Is it somehow symbolic, is he and his whole world in fact disintegrating? Why?
10. Where has the young woman's cousin gone? Has he in fact disappeared, or is he simply absent, getting on with his life, forgetting about her? Is there a gulf between what the characters in Ogawa's stories feel and the world outside of themselves? Perhaps all of her narrator's are unreliable. What clues does she give you to determine the difference between what they imagine and what is real?
11. Discuss the final image of "Dormitory", the discovery that the narrator makes deep inside the air duct. It seems to be dripping down blood, but we discover it is something else. What do you think is the meaning of this image in the story?
12. Are there any assumptions you can make about contemporary Japan from these stories, is Ogawa commenting on society and culture in her native country (e.g. what people eat, how they receive pre-natal care, college dormitory life)? Or do the novellas seem to take place in a culturally opaque landscape, and deal strictly with more elemental, basic aspects of living and existence?
13. One might say that Ogawa writes about normal life – going to the doctor, having a crush, finding a place to live – but with tiny, imaginative distortions. What is so particular and strange about how she approaches these seemingly familiar activities? Is she distorting them, or just showing us what they really are like?
14. Do you think everyone has the potential for cruelty? Is it true that if you can think a cruel thought, that you are not far really that from acting upon it? Does Ogawa succeed in making you empathize with cruel people, and is it even fair to characterize them as cruel?
15. Women take center stage in these three novellas, their psyches on naked display. Is this a book that men could relate to as well, or does it speak particularly to a female reader only?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AP World History Review: Delightful read, but slightly unsatisfying. When reading the book, I was extremely excited to get an insight into the Japanese mind and Japanese literary style that I typically don't get a chance to read. I was very intrigued throughout all of the novellas and greatly anticipated the events one after another. I loved the darker insights of human psychology that motivated the characters. However, I found myself slightly confused in some parts that never seemed to be answered and was often left unsatisfied by the end of the novellas. Although it does leave the reader a chance to imagine what would have have happened next, I was left still hungry for something more than the way each one ended. They were unsatisfying, but still well written. The author's purpose was well executed in (what I imagine to be) and insight into the minds of darker personalities of everyday people in everyday lives. Yoko Ogawa beautifully and successfully crafts three great novellas that present considered "normal" lives and shows how "un-normal" these typical people can really be. Being that I've never gotten a chance to read true Japanese novel literature, I was highly impressed with how the stories played out and what became of the ends. Each novella was gorgeously written that leaves the reader hanging and greedy for more. It's a true page turner and you'll be over with the book before you know it. I was very pleased with how each individual story progressed up until the end. From then on -although it was written quite well- I was left feeling a little bit hanging; as though there should be something more that I'm not catching. Although it was frustrating at times, it really tied in well with the eeriness and complexity of each individual story in leaving the reader unsure of what the true motivation of the characters were. I would most certainly recommend The Diving Pool to anyone who is willing to read about another culture and who is more complex in analyzing. You really have to follow along well in order to get the whole effect of the story. Also, many who aren't as open to different mindsets of cultures may be more turned off to the themes in the books as well. Overall, it was a very exciting read and excellent.
For the serious literary reader
The three novellas that make up this slim collection were not originally written to be read together. They were all published in Japan in 1990, but separately: Pregnancy Diary, which won the prestigious Akutagawa prize, was published in the magazine Bungakukai, while the other two were pulished in another journal, Kaien. Yet, they share similarities: All three have introverted young women as protagonists all involved domestic settings and all are imbued with a sense of hidden menace. Although a renowned writer in her own country, Yoko Ogawa has never published an English translation of her work in book form before, despite having written more than 20 volumes of fiction and non-fiction since 1988. American translator Stephen Snyder is the first to tackle her work, translating Pregnancy Diary first for The New Yorker in 2005. In a series of vignettes scattered over nine months, the narrator observes her pregnant sister's tortured eating habits with a quietly sadistic eye. Meanwhile, the titular Diving Pool, translated for Zoetrope last year. is a watertight emotional portrait of an alienated teenage girl and her obsession with an athletic and outgoing boy. And the last story, Dormitory, is rich with a suspense that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud. The narrator returns to her old college dormitory when her cousin moves in, and strikes up a friendship with the amiable if enigmatic old man who runs it, a triple amputee whose agility with his single leg is only as odd as the rot that seems to be swallowing the building up from within. These stories are riveting due to the vivid, almost tactile quality of their descriptions. Take the titular story, narrated by the teenaged Aya, the only child of deeply religious parents who run the Light House, a Christian orphanage. Aya's obsession with one of their wards, Jun, is luminously captured in the opening scene, in which she describes secretly watching him at their high school's diving practice, obviously drawn to his physicality: 'But it's when we're at the pool that I feel closest to Jun - when he's diving, his body nearly defenceless in only a swimsuit, twisting itself into the laid-out position, the pike, the tuck.' But this fierce tenderness is twinned with a sharp streak of cruelty, this time directed at a young, helpless orphan. Again, her emotions are rooted in the body of the other: 'The tiny legs protruding from the elastic hems of her pants looked like pats of smooth, white butter... There is something almost erotic about their defencelessness, and yet they seem fresh and vivid, like separate living creatures.' But before you mentally categorise Ogawa as being part of that school of Japanese writers who are obsessed with the human body and the myriad ways it can be hurt - see Ryu Murakami - it is actually remarkable how much these stories, barring character names and a few mentions of kimonos and mochi, actually read as if they could be set in any city in any reasonably modernised country. This sets her apart from most of the popular contemporary Japanese writers published in translation today - the two Murakamis, Banana Yoshimoto - whose works in various ways actively address the intensively cultivated culture in which they are set. However, it does not appear to be a deliberate attempt on the author's part to universalise her stories by eschewing cultural references. Rather, it is an indication of how inwardly-drawn her protagonists are, never engaging with society long enough to reflect its quirks. Indeed, these stories are an impressive plunge into the darkness of the human psyche. But ultimately, this collection feels too narrow in its focus, too one-note in its emotional intensity. Perhaps that is unfair, since the stories were not written to stand together. In any case, it leaves you wondering what depths the author would plumb in a full-length novel.
The three stories in THE DIVING POOL move from simple to increasingly more complicated levels in the telling. In a way, the first's the most satisfying and the second the least. For there's a truly unsettling crime in both. However, whereas the first perp pays, that in Pregnancy diary doesn't. In terms of the third counter-heroine, I'm still sorting out the layers of meaning in the story. And it's not because of the translation. For the English rings clearly and inevitably throughout, reporter-style. In fact, author Ogawa's book has the impact and some of the same themes as Camus' classic.
This is the third book I have read by the author. The first, The Housekeeper and the Professor, is a beautiful story with compelling characters. The second, Hotel Iris, was a bizarre and disturbing story with compelling characters. This book is a set of three novellas. I found it just bizarre and disturbing. I did not even find the characters compelling. So, I really did not enjoy it at all.
I¿ve often been tempted to try Yoko Ogawa¿s books ¿ my work colleague has repeatedly told me that The Housekeeper and The Professor is a must read and I¿ve picked up her books in bookshops many times, yet put them back due to price. I was pleasantly surprised that my local library had a copy of The Diving Pool not only on the shelf but in a condition that suggested nobody¿s lunch had ever been spilled on it! (Always a bonus).The Diving Pool contains three novellas and can easily be read in a day. The first story, The Diving Pool, is about a girl who lives with many foster brothers and sisters. Every day, she watches her foster brother practise diving. Unfortunately, she is not as nice to her other siblings¿The second story, The Pregnancy Diaries, is a diary of a young woman living with her sister and her brother-in-law. The diary starts as the sister announces she is pregnant, but the sister has all sorts of strange things going on¿The final story, Dormitory, is about a young woman about to depart for Sweden. She reminisces to her cousin about her college days in a dormitory. He goes to live there when he starts college, but mysterious things are happening. The caretaker is a triple amputee and the students are disappearing¿All three stories are written beautifully and sparsely, leaving you to make up your own mind to what may have actually happened. All facets of human nature are laid bare from jealousy to cruelty. There¿s an element of the gothic or horror to each story. When trying to explain this book to a friend, her response was `you read weird stuff¿ but I think Japanese literature is a lot more brutally honest in its assessment of the human psyche.I look forward to reading one of Ogawa¿s novels soon.Read it if: you enjoy the slightly creepy and can handle people doing strange things.
I didn¿t love this slim volume with three short stories, unfortunately. The writer, and characters, seemed obsessed with gooey and yucky things like the following typical snippet of conversation:¿Doesn¿t the sauce on the macaroni remind you of digestive juices?¿ she murmured. I ignored her and took a sip of water. ¿So warm and slimy? The way it globs together?¿ and on and on, in the same vein.It was a bit icky and creepy, but one has to give Ogawa her due. The last story read like a thriller and I literally found myself holding my breath while reading.On the whole, I'm amazed at her ability to write something as beautiful as The Housekeeper + The Professor and then this almost nauseating set of stories, on the other extreme.No recommendation for this one, but a hearty double recommendation for The Housekeeper + the Professor from me!
From this collection of three "novellas" (really, they are just short stories, printed in a large font), it is not easy to see how Yoko Ogawa has won "every major Japanese literary award." She has a very acute sense of sickening smells, oozy things (yoghurt, a baby's "buttery" thighs, past sauce that looks like intestinal juices), slippery wet clothes, the maggoty look of kiwi fruits, rancid cream puffs, and many other such things. She relies too much on them -- her characters live in a world of faintly pustulent, always redolent, sometimes gorgeously overripe flesh, and her narrators experience and describe their world exclusively through sensations. One thing that means is that they don't talk much. Conversations are oddly emotionless and empty, and relationships are nearly mute, or autistic, as if rank smells and fleshy textures had taken the place of language. Having said that, the second story has an astonishingly excellent last line, and all three are, as the dust jacket says, memorable. I will be reading more of her: I just hope she shows more range.
Disturbing and mind-boggling set of stories that leaves one considering the darker inclinations in all of us.
A collection of three novellas, each of them about what happens when something disturbs the routine lives of their protagonists: a troubled teen has a crush on her foster-brother; a young woman notes her pregnant sister's mood changes; and another young woman starts returning to her student dormitory. According to the book's blurb these stories are billed as 'eerie' and 'haunting' - and about how close to the surface our dark sides are. The third one did have the feel of a horror story, but other than that I didn't find this at all. They were certainly a bit grotesque, but I got bored quite quickly with the listless, detached protagonists.
A friend sent me Yoko Ogawa's The Diving Pool after I read and enjoyed The Housekeeper and the Professor, a sweet novel about a woman and her son, and their unique relationship with a mathematics professor. This book, The Diving Pool, is a group of three novellas, and it is so different from [The Housekeeper and the Professor] that it is difficult to believe that they are by the same author.The first novella, The Diving Pool, is about a teenage girl who falls in love with her step-brother. She watches his diving practice everyday after school, slipping out at the end before he can see her. At first this seems like a cute first crush, but things soon take an obsessive turn.The second novella, Pregnancy Diary, is told throught he diary of a young woman living with her pregnant sister and brother-in-law. Again, things start out rather normally, but soon become disturbing.The third novella, Dormitory, is about a woman who returns to her college residence years after her graduation. This dorm has fallen into disrepair, and the narrator is sucked into the rather sinister life of the crippled Manager of the building.Ogawa's prose (and the work of her translator) is beautiful. She is a master at creating a mood - all of these stories made me feel rather creeped out - and at exploring the inner workings of the human mind. Her prose is detailed, yet sparse; she is an author who knows how to get the most out of just a few words.So why, then, the low 2.5 star rating? Each of these stories has huge potential. They set up an obsessive character, give these characters destructive habits, and then right when the reader thinks something terrible is going to happen.... they end. Three times I felt my imagination kick into gear, felt as though some horriffic event was going to occur, and then each time I was let down. Nothing happened. These stories all had such potential, but Ogawa never took that last step. She made the horrible mundane, or just simply avoided the implecations of her characters' actions. Don't let this book be your only attempt at Ogawa's bibliography - The Housekeeper and the Professor was very good, and I will definitely search out more of her books.
I read this book thinking that I would get a better view on how things were in Japan during this time period, however I didn’t. The book is divided into three separate short stories all based in Japan. None of the stories contribute anything to help you learn about the history of Japan. Each story is about something totally different but they’re all similar because each one is a little dark and mysterious. In the first story it consist of a girls who has a crush on one of her family’s foster kids and likes the sound of when one of the other foster children cries. In the second it has a woman who takes care of her pregnant sister and worries about if the grapefruits she’s feeding her are affecting the baby’s chromosomes. She still continues to feed her sister them anyways. Once her sister has the baby she calls it a ruined child. Then at the end of the third story the woman feels something thick dripping from the ceiling of where the dormitory manager lives. She goes outside and finds out there’s a beehive above where the manager is living and that it’s honey dripping from his ceiling. All three stories don’t really finish. They’re just left at a stopping point in the middle. This would be a good book to read if you like reading stories that you can make your own theory about what happened and why. However, the book doesn’t help you review about Japan during this time period. The book doesn’t really provide any ideas of what Japan was like because it had very few settings most of which were usually indoors. None of the stories mentioned anything that was occurring at the time in Japan that affected them. A lot of the reading in the book is just the thoughts of a character. There was a small amount of dialogue and most of the dialogue was short conversations that you didn’t get much out of relating to Japan. So overall I wouldn’t recommend this book to help a student review because there wasn’t really anything that you could take away from the book about Japan historically.
Walks in with a black bikini on