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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Review: The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan @soho_press @ClaireClaire05

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida 
by Clarissa Goenawan

Thank you to Soho Press and the author for this amazing read.

Publisher: Soho Press
Publish Date: March 10, 2020
288 Pages
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Cultural

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

To Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda; Chie, Miwako’s best friend; and Fumi, Ryusei’s older sister, Miwako was more than the blunt, no-nonsense person she projected to the world. Heartbroken, Ryusei begs Chie to take him to the village where Miwako spent her final days. While he is away, Fumi receives an unexpected guest at their shared apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful façade, unmasking her most painful secrets.

My Review:

Wow.  Where do I even begin?! I read Clarissa's prior book, Rainbirds, two years ago and knew she was a talented writer then, but this book... THIS BOOK.  I just finished it and I'm floored.  What a truly beautiful, if somber, story.  I had literal chills at one part towards the end. ALL THE FEELS.

This book centers around Miwako Sumida, who we learn from the prologue, has hanged herself.  What comes are three parts, through the eyes of those who knew her best as we reflect to their experiences with her and how they deal with the aftermath of her passing.  

Part I is Ryusei Yanagi, the young man who fell in love with her despite and because of her blunt manner and her uniqueness amongst the frilly girls of her peers.  Here we delve into how he develops his feelings, why he couldn't stop pursuing her and how he decides to cope with this loss and major emptiness in his life.  Part II is Chie Ohno, her best friend and keeper of her darkest secret.  The girl who while popular, considered herself an outsider and was tired of all the fake.  And with Miwako, you never got fake.  Her view is peppered with her wondering if she should still hold on to these secrets while those around her continue to wonder about certain affairs.  Part III we get Fumi Yanagi's view - Ryu's sister who has a story of her own.  How Miwako affected her while alive and then in her death is beyond anything you think you'd feel.  

Everyone - please do yourself a favor and pick up this book.  I would read the entire journal entries in that magazine we learn about in Chie Ohno's part.  I would travel with Ryu in his part and would learn to paint from Fumi while supporting all that she is.  There are so many lessons to be learned from this read.  So many intricacies between these characters.  What we learn most is how differently each person feels and sees in one.  No one sees one person exactly the same and all of these relationships are cherished and loved. Love.  Just LOVE.


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