Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rainbirds: A Novel by Clarissa Goenawan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut follows a young man’s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister’s murder. 

Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.

As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.
my thoughts:

A quiet and compelling story that mixes mystery with magical realism, Rainbirds is a must-read! I absolutely loved getting lost in Goenawan's lyrical prose - it was beautiful, sparse, and moody.  It fit perfectly with this thoughtful story about a brother's grief over the loss of his older sister.  The descriptions of everyday life and the flashbacks provided a layered depth to the story.  I found myself unable to stop reading. I just loved learning about Ren and his sister Keiko - they both intrigued me with their sense of loneliness - it just seemed to haunt them wherever they went.  Plus, its set in Japan and you know I love a story set in Japan - so this book was a win-win for me from the start. I just loved it so much.

Ren is in Akakawa tending to his sister's funerary arrangements following her death.  She's been murdered and no one knows why.  He is keen on figuring out what happened, why she was killed and whodunit.  Whilst in this sleepy, small town he finds himself stepping into his sister's shoes - he takes her job, he moves into her room, and he befriends her friends.  Ren is following in her footsteps in an attempt to learn about Keiko's life - to find out why she chose to live in such an unknown town, why she left him and their family all those years ago.  Of course, the more he learns, the less he likes the answers he finds. And that is all I will write about this wonderful novel.  Oh, and just so you know, your questions will be answered.

Rainbirds is an amazing debut novel that explores family, love, loss, and loneliness.  The writing is top notch. The characters are unforgettable. And the story is unputdownable.  This is a novel you will fall in love with.  I would happily recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Rainbirds
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!


Ti said...

I am reading this for the tour as well. I have yet to start it! I'm glad you enjoyed the writing.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Ti, I really liked it. It was a quiet, slow-moving story that really does suck you in. Plus, its set in Japan - what's not to like, right? Hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

Lark said...

Another book I want to read! I don't need to go to the library, I just need to come to your house and I'm set for the next year. ;D

Clarissa Goenawan said...

Thank you so much for reviewing Rainbirds. So glad that you enjoyed it :)

Ash said...

This looks really good! And I love the cover

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wow! Your review has me super excited about this book - it sounds very different than my usual reading fare, and I'm up for a change.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Heather, its such a great read :) Thanks for having me on the tour!

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Lark, I know, right? You can just borrow my books as your own private library :) Definitely check this book out - its so good!

Clarissa, I loved your book - it was amazing! Thank you!

Ashlea, this book is fantastic - you will love it! And the cover is awesome :)

Vintage Reading said...

Sounds great and I love the cover. Don't think I've ever read anything set in Japan before!