Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Book Review: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimito

The first of many book reviews to close out 2012

I'm far behind. That's the truth. I think I took a little hiatus from just about everything to devote to the long and painful process of moving. We bought a new house in the fall and that consumed us. While I thought it was the frugal thing to do, to move ourselves rather than hire professionals, really took a life of its own.

While I feel we are officially settled in as we celebrate the holidays, I do still have to find things as everything has a new "home" or is still in the garage to be sorted. I took a hiatus from blogging and even cooking these last few months but I did continue to read. So in the next couple of days there will be several reviews of books to close out this year.

I really try to avoid collections of short stories for the most part. I don't know why this is but I think that because I'm a quick reader I want to have some sort of long term relationship with the characters. However, a couple of collections got past me this reading batch and this was one of them. Kitchen had two short stories both focusing on loss.

The first, Kitchen, is a first person perspective told by Mikage who has recently lost her grandmother who was her only living relative. Mikage finds comfort in the kitchen and in cooking in this time of loss. During the funeral she meets Yuichi, the young man from the flower shop that knew her grandmother, who invites her to live with him and his mother while she heals.

Through a series of events, Mikage and Yuichi find commonality and navigate through the grief of losing a loved one. The story is told in what first seems like simple terms but really has layers of depth in both the plot and the persons. The narrative is often poetic.

A second story, Moonlight Shadow, also deals with loss, this time with a boyfriend who died in a car crash. Again, relationships are borne through the loss but this time the story also contains elements of the supernatural or magical.

This book was translated from Japanese into English and I wonder of some of it was lost in that transition. However, the book remains lyrical and has a good pace. I would recommend this one.

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