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2014, 240 pages
Due to the death of her 4-year-old daughter, middle school teacher Yuko Moriguchi has resigned her position. But before she leaves her students for the last time, she has one more story to tell them: about who they are, who she is, and what really happened on the last day of her daughter’s life. From this beginning, Minato’s novel spirals out into a complex exploration of blame, guilt, responsibility and revenge set in modern Japan that leads up to an explosive climax.
What really makes this intensely creepy story work is that it’s told entirely in the voices of six characters: Yuko; her students Naoki, Shuya and Mizuki; and Naoki’s sister and mother. The characters have their own justifications for why they act the way they do and each action, although logical, has hidden and not-so-hidden repercussions that reverberate out into the community. This was Minato’s first novel (originally published in 2008 in Japan) and it’s easy to see why it was a bestseller there. It will remain in your mind long after you turn the last page.