Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction
Thank you to Manilla Press for the gifted copy of this novel .
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .
When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.
Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.
What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.
When you’ve lost everything, what can you find . . ?
“Grief, Yui had once told him, is something you ingest everyday, like a sandwich cut into small pieces, gently chewed and then calmly swallowed. Digestion was slow. And so, Takeshi thought, joy must work in the same way”
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is an extraordinary novel. A soulful, moving and uplifting study of grief and honouring the spirits of those we have lost.
In Belle Garcia, Japan there is a phone box that isn’t connected to anywhere. Known as the ‘wind phone’, it is a place for the broken and lost. A place people come to spend time in the adjacent garden and to talk to the people they have loved and lost and hear their words carried out onto the wind. This is the story of Yui and Takeshi. Of their journey through grief, to the phone box and to find happiness once again.
I truly believe there are times a novel will come to you at exactly the time you need it . And that is what happened for me with this book. Being in the early stages of grief after losing a close friend I was anxious about reading it but could not have chosen a better book to read. I am thankful that I read this as a buddy read with one of my closest book friends as it was great to be able to discuss our thoughts and feelings while reading such a moving story.
Wonderfully constructed with delicate, lyrical prose, reading this novel was like a balm for the soul. Powerful, poignant, heartwarming and hopeful, it also doesn’t shy away from the raw pain grief leaves behind. I loved the author’s use of little interludes filled with facts to break up the narrator’s chapters, which acted as a kind of palate refresher for your emotions.
Yui and Takeshi are both great characters. I loved how they brought out a better side to each other and taught each other it was okay to be happy again without it dishonouring those they had lost. Their story could have so easily been cheesy but instead it felt authentic and natural.
Wholly immersive and breathtakingly beautiful, I can’t recommend this novel highly enough. The Important Note and Acknowledgements are vital reading at the end as they offer more information about the real phone box and story this novel is based on and the author’s intentions for writing it.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laura Imai Messina has been living in Japan for the last 15 years and works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. She took a Masters in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in 21 territories.
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