Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa... A Review

Be With You
A Haunting Love Story....

"Soon I won't be with you any longer," 29-year-old Mio says to her husband Takumi, "But when the rainy season returns, I will come back to see how the two of you are getting along."

These simple words spoken a week before Mio leaves this world for the world beyond, somehow comforts Takumi, as he struggles to take care of himself and their 5 year old son Yuki... But one year later when the rainy season returns, so does Mio! In a walk thru the woods Takumi & Yuki are stunned to see a confused Mio standing before them. As Takumi calls out to her in disbelief, "Mio?" She asks "Is that my name?" She has no memory.... and Takumi decides then and there that he will lie to her and act as if she's been ill and has lost her memory due to her illness. And of course he's not going to tell her that she is a ghost. Takumi takes Yuki aside in secret and explains to him that they must not let on that she died - so they form a pact to act as normal as possible...

Mio is a bit apprehensive, things just don't seem right somehow... But she wants to know what she's forgotten, so Takumi begins to tell her their story, and in simple prose Takumi weaves a most unusual love story that slowly pulls the reader in and slowly makes Mio fall in love all over again with Takumi. At a steady pace, between the story of the present day, we learn the everyday mundane to the poignant moments that make up this love story. From the time they met at age 15 to the time just before Mio died. But what may appear to be a romantic ghost story is really much more than that. There is a twist to this story ...the present is the future and has a link to the past... On the surface it appears to be a simple story, but looks are deceiving... Just as we are taking the story for granted, we are suddenly found stirred by that surprising twist! And then the story takes on a whole different meaning!

There are also other concepts that Takuji Ichikawa deals with- such as the afterlife. In a beautifully written opening paragraph, our main character Takumi is describing Mio's death to their 5 year old son...

"When Mio died, this was how I thought.
Whoever made our planet must have made
another planet at the same time,
somewhere in the universe.
That would be the planet where people go when they die.
The name of that planet is Archive."

We are never far from the truth of the story because Ichikawa never hides the fact that Mio dies, but with the reappearance of Mio comes renewed hope for a happy ending and the question of what makes us love another person? A simple yet beautiful story....


Book Bird Dog said...

What a lovely find! I must remember to read this book. Very nice review.

Paperback Reader said...

This sounds beautiful and mysterious and I am thoroughly intrigued!
I may have to find it for the japanese Lit challenge.

Natalie W said...

I've got to read it! Sounds like an awesome book.
Great review.
Natalie :0)

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Book Bird Dog!
Yes, it was quite a surprise- especially since the bookseller had shelved it in the Manga! This book was so popular in Japan that it is a Graphic Novel, Movie, mini-series and finally this book.... I didn't buy it for the hype though, I love ghost stories and that's what originally interested me.

I'm glad you enjoyed the review!


Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Paperback Reader!
it was so simple of a story, but the ending really proved that it was so much more and I didn't even know it!

Thanks for stopping by! And I stopped by your nice blog and learned about your reading challenge! I had never heard of Persephone Books! I'm going to have to look into that now!


Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Natalie!

I'm so glad you enjoyed the review! Be With You was such a surprise to me. I really enjoyed it! And I would recommend it! If you do pick up a copy, let me know what you thought!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a book I MUST read! I can't believe I hadn't heard of yet.

Since you liked this story I want to recommend one of my favorite books: Strangers, by Taichi Yamada. It brought me to tears... Sorry, I have no review blogposted.

I'm glad to have discovered the Japanese Literature Challenge, otherwise I wouldn't have stumbled upon your review!

Suzanne Yester said...

Thank you so much gnoegnoe for your suggestion of Strangers! I will definitely look it up! I love a book that can move you and this sounds like it was a wonderful story.

I'm glad you were able to find me! Don't be a stranger! Especially if you can share recommendations for us all to enjoy!


Heidi V said...

Thank you so much for sharing this read! Sounds like a good read...

Paperback Reader said...

Suzanne, Strangers was also recommended to me for the challenge and I managed to pick up a copy. look out for a review soon! I need to catch up on my Japanese challenge reading and have a few books on my bedside table for it.

Suzanne Yester said...

Ok two recommendations for Strangers! I can't wait to see your review Paperback Reader!

Lisa said...

Hey Suzanne ! I love your blog and love what you read!

I gave you an award!

You can claim it here:

Have a great day!

Cathy said...

This is a nice review! The story sounds wonderful - I will have to read this one.

Helen said...

Hi, Suzanne. Thanks for such a great review. It sounds like something I might like. I think I will add it to my wish list. I enjoyed my first Japanese Literature book in this challenge as well. I've decided to read two books instead of one. :)Here's my review of After Dark by Haruki Murakami.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Lisa!
Thank you for the award! And congrats on yours! Your blog does rock!


Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Heidi!
Thanks for stopping by and saying hello! Joining the Japanese Literature Challenge put a whole bunch of new books in that BIG pile! :D Especially after I really enjoyed the style of writing with this book...

Take care,

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Cathy!
Thank you for the nice compliment for my review! It was hard not giving too much away! So if you eventually read it you will have to let me know so we can chat about it!


Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Helen!
What a great review for After Dark! I guess I'm putting this on my list too! :D OK, now we have read our first book for the challenge! Yah! What are you reading next?!


Helen said...

Hi, Suzanne. I'm still waiting for my copy of First Snow in Fuji so that's my next one. I'm flirting with the idea of getting Norwegian Wood (also by Murakami) and perhaps Remains of the Day and Be With You. So many to choose! ;)

Silvia said...

This sounds like a great book I will have to read.


Suko said...

This does sound like a wonderful book. I enjoyed your review. I am also doing the Japanese literature challenge, and eagerly awaiting a book (well, two, actually) I ordered for the occasion.

BurtonReview said...

This reminds me of The Housekeeper and The Professor that I read a few months ago. Though not ghost related, my pick is also Japanese literature and a simple yet beautiful story. My review is here but is one of my first reviews and pretty simple, but it'll give you an idea of what it is about in case you are interested.

Suzanne Yester said...

Oh, I loved The Housekeeper and The Professor too! Thanks for recommending it to everyone! It was a surprisingly simple, yet wonderful story!

I'm going over to check out your review now!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that the post mentioning you is up ;)

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading it.
I really appreciate this books. It's definately a good read.

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