Published: April 21st, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction
I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour today for this spectacular debut novel. Thank you to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to W&N for the gifted copy of the book.
A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, What’s Left of Me Is Yours follows a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life – and her murder.
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.
When Sato hires Kaitaro, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Sato has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitaro’s job is to do exactly that – until he does it too well.
While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitaro fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter Sumiko’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, What’s Left of Me Is Yours explores the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
“I realised that of all the lies we are told, the very best ones are close to the truth.”
Do you ever find yourself deliberately slowing down your reading speed so you can savour a book and make it last? That’s what I found myself doing with this novel; feeling the need to soak it all in and appreciate the sheer beauty within its pages.
Sumiko Sarashima was raised by her grandfather, Yoshi, following her mother’s death when she was just seven years old. She’s always believed that she died in a car accident, but then a phone call from the Ministry of Justice rocks her world – her mother was murdered. Her grandfather has lied her whole life and everything she knows about her mother and herself is an illusion. Sumiko embarks on a quest for the truth, battling the strict and rather antiquated Japanese laws to slowly unravel the mystery of her mother’s death and to find out who she really was.
What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is, quite simply, a masterpiece. Compelling, evocative, atmospheric and affecting, this is a book you need to read. Themes of truth and justice are woven throughout the story as it reveals the seedy, shadowy underbelly of Japanese law and the devastating long-term effects on its citizens. But at the heart of it is a story about love and the lengths some will go to in the name of it. A tragic story of a family torn apart by love, resentment, secrets and lies, the author explores the long-term effects of grief and learning your life was an illusion.
Stephanie Scott is an extraordinary new talent. I fell under her spell within the first few pages as the poetic prose tells the story with beauty and fluency. Flawlessly crafted, it has a calm, graceful pace that builds to a tense and shocking climax. One of my favourite aspects of this novel is the fascinating and eye-opening insights into the Japanese beliefs, way of life, laws and culture. I was charmed by things such as the traditional way Sumiko’s name is chosen and shocked at how harsh and austere their laws were and how little rights their citizens have in circumstances such as divorce and as victims of a crime. The work that has gone into this book: the detail and research, jumps from the pages, as does the stunning Japanese landscape that is portrayed with a rich, vivid imagery that transported me to a place I’ve never been and made me feel like I was seeing it right in front of me.
The story is told through a variety of voices: young and old, men and women, that are sensitively and expertly written; each voice is distinct, offering a unique perspective. Sumiko is the only narrator in the present day, the others giving their voices to flashbacks that slowly tell the story of events leading up to, and immediately following, Rina’s death. I loved Sumiko and Rina. Sumiko is a strong woman who knows where she’s going in life until the phone call forces her to reassess everything and begin a journey of self-discovery and being forced to begin the grieving process for her mother all over again. Rina was a character full of so much joy and so many plans for the future. It tore me apart reading it knowing she was living her final months and all that she would live to never see.
The catalyst for Rina’s tragic death is her love affair with Kaitaro. Their story is beautifully written, a meeting of two souls finding true love, but it is also complex, with so much hidden beneath the surface that casts a shadow over their happiness, unbeknown to Rina. I could not fathom how they would get to a place where he took her life and was convinced he was innocent for so long.
An absolute tour de force, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is a lyrical, immersive, thought-provoking, dark and breathtaking debut. Everyone needs to read this book and I will be telling everyone I know, and even those I don’t to read it. BUY IT NOW!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephanie Scott is a Singaporean and British writer who was born and raised in South East Asia. She read English Literature at the Universities of York and Cambridge and holds an M.St in Creative Writing from Oxford University.
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