Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
“What happens when people open their hearts?" ; "They get better.”
Toru Watanabe hears a tune of 'Norwegian Wood' and remembers his past girlfriend Naoka, who loved this song so much that she used to pay 100 bucks to her roommate to play it on guitar. As he thinks of her and his young days, this book unfolds the stories within stories from the old times. It consists of the people he loved, the people who loved him, the books he read, the girls in his life, his friends, his dormitory life, everything.
Murakami weaved this book with interesting conversations between characters, sometimes at a bar, or in the dorm's lobby, in the hospital, cafeteria, at the garage, in the library and even through the letters. Letters play a very vital role in this book. The worlds of Toru and Naoko are connected through letters. Toru loves Naoko, who live in a place that she can’t leave because of her medical condition. She is broken because of the loss of people she loved. This distance makes Toru fall in love with his classmate, Midori, a cheerful bubbly girl. This book then moves ahead with Toru’s dilemma for love, his struggle with loneliness, his way in and out of depression. This is a coming of age story that highlights the existential crises in the adolescence stage.
I am saying this again, the book is mostly made up of conversations. I felt like being there with the characters and listening to their nonsense but reflective talks. This book questions a lot of things that seem so straightforward about living. But if you are someone who moral police yourself while reading, do not read this book. Please do not. There are a lot of things that may force you to label this book 'problematic'
“What makes us the most normal," said Reiko, "is knowing that we're not normal.”
Norwegian Wood consumed me so much that I couldn’t sleep the night I finished it. It has a very simple story but it intrigues you so much that you get involved with the characters. It is difficult to state what this book is about but if I have to tell you then just know that the major themes of this book are love and loss. It is safe to say that this is the saddest book I have ever read. It is beautiful, the writing, the emotions, the story, but it disturbs everyone who reads it. I love it, but I don’t recommend it to those who are going through a lot. It is depressing. It takes you on an emotional trip and there's no switch to turn that ride off.
Trigger warnings : Death, Laesbophoebia, Loss of loved ones