Friday, February 18, 2022


Author:  Eto Mori
Publication Information:  Counterpoint. 2021. 224 pages.
ISBN:  1640094423 / 978-1640094420

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "As my dead soul leisurely drifted off to some dark place, this angers I'd never seen before suddenly appeared right in my way."

Favorite Quote:  "Extraordinary joy and sadness can come out of the ordinary every day."

A nameless young individual dies. His soul drifts towards the afterlife and the cycle of rebirth. An angel named Prapura notifies him that he has won the lottery. Because of his actions during his life, this individual is about to be kicked out of the cycle of rebirth. The soul is to be no more. However, due to the decision of the "boss," he is being given a second chance. He is to be given a "homestay" in another body. There he stays until he can determine what grave error he made in his own life.

The host body is fourteen-year-old Makoto Kobayashi. He has just killed himself, but due to the chance given to this nameless soul, is brought back to life. Now, this soul has to live as Makoto while determining what went wrong in his own life. Surrounding Makato are his parents, his older brother, and his school mates.

So begins this journey of self- discovery. Although marketed as literature and fiction, this book has very much of a young adult feel. The conclusion of the book is just what I expect it to be. The lesson is just what I expect it to be. "It wasn't some simple change, like things that I thought were black were actually white. It was more like when I looked closely, things I thought were a single, uniform color were really made up of a bunch of different colors. That's maybe the best way to describe it."

The journey of self-discovery also becomes a journey of learning about those who surround us. So often in our lives, we take for granted those closest to us and see what we choose to see. The soul in Makato's body learns this lesson about his family and his school mates.

The young-adult feel of the book comes from how simplified issues such as suicide, mental health, ethics, and infidelity seem to be. The resolutions to these issues seems equally simplified. In many ways, this is a self-help book with a lesson that appears easy to state but is so challenging to implement. "Remember how it felt to move freely without trapping yourself in your own expectations." The books appears to gloss over the challenges.

The biggest issue I have with the book does not even center on the main character, but rather on a girl who he cares about. The book, in a matter of fact way, presents an eight-grader prostituting herself so that she can buy things! "Pretty clothes, bags, rings, all those nice things I want are super expensive. Even if I tried to save  up my allowance, okay. even if I saved up for a whole year, I could never buy any of them ... But if I do it with him three or four times, boom, I can buy whatever I want." This is something I just cannot see past. The fact that the girl has an allowance indicates an economic level and a home life. But prostitution! The fact that I feel this book has a young adult audience makes this statement worse. The fact that is presented matter of factly and then not addressed again makes it worse and beyond my understanding. The fact that this being the reason for rejection of Makato is somewhat tangential to Makato's story makes it worse. Teenage angst over an unrequited love alone is enough. Why add this twist to the mix?

The original Japanese book won the Sankei Children's Book Award when originally published in the 1990s; it has been made into multiple movies. The fact that it won a Children's book award makes the subject matter even less palatable. Let's just say I do not understand.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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