Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Pages: 389 pages
Plot: Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
Favorite Quote: Letters are just pieces of paper, burn them and what stays in your heart will stay; keep them, and what vanishes will vanish.
I had heard a lot about this book and I finally picked it up. Let me start by telling you that this is one of the most melancholic book I have every read in my life. The story is nothing extraordinary infact it is quite predictable. But what really makes it interesting is the writing. It just flows like poetry.
Toru, is the protagonist and the book is narrated from his point of view. He is a sensitive guy who understands people and sees them for who they really are. But he can’t open up about his personal life to anyone. At times I felt he is not ready to accept his problems himself. Naoko is a beautiful, fragile, depressed girl, who is trying to recover after witnessing suicide of her childhood boyfriend/ best friend and her elder sister. She has never been normal ever since. Reiko, wise, broken woman who is scared to step out in the outside world and is happy in her world created at the sanatorium. And finally Midori who has seen more hurt than she deserves at her age. She is a survivor, fiercely independent and outspoken.
The ending was left to interpretation. Spoiler Alert: – I would have assumed that Toru committed suicide too and he is reaching out to Midori to rescue him if it was not for the beginning where the story is narrated by him 20 years from that time. I believe in happy endings and I chose to believe that the cycle of action of committing suicide and people reacting to it by being depressed and committing suicide themselves was finally broken.
The best part about the book is that the experiences and the journey of life that we see from Toru’s view. I would recommend this book to whoever is up for an emotionally traumatic read.