"Tsukuru couldn't answer, but he had a strange feeling. If circumstances had been different he might have spent his life entirely within the confines of Nagoya too, and never questioned it."
I absolutely devoured this tortured yet beautiful book. Perhaps it reflects where I’m at in my life, at a similar age to the protagonist, reflecting back and seeing for the first time how coloured memories can be by our own perceptions. Tsukuru is a shell of a man after his high school friends abruptly cease contact while he is away at university in Tokyo, while they remain in Nagoya.
His adult life has been shaped by this perceived rejection and it takes a particular woman to make him confront the demons of his past.
Murakami expertly conveys a sense of differing perspectives. We begin with the narrator, convinced he is the victim of an unfathomable rejection, cast out by the circle of coloured names that formed the crux of his child and early adult hood.
Like a mystery novel, the circumstances behind this upheaval are slowly unveiled, revealing a far more tragic tale and its impacts on all the key players.
I don't want to go into detail about what happens, as I feel that might detract from your appreciation as a reader. Ultimately, I came away from the book with a strange sense of optimism, that someone else's take on reality might be quite different from my own. Like Tsukuru, sometimes we need to reject our insular view of the past and the feeling we get of being hard done by at times.Our macro view can distort reality and our interactions with others may be seen in a completely different light from how we initially perceive them.
To distill some of the themes in a rather messy way, I'd say this is a novel about the perspective of time and middle age ( crap am I really that old?) and allowing your adult self to heal the seemingly insurmountable wounds of adolescence. That's my take, I'm intrigued to hear what others have to say and eagerly await tonight's ABC first Tuesday book club to hear more.
5 out of 5 school friends change.