My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Norwegian Wood is my comfort book, and not because reading it leaves me feeling warm or happy—but because I love its transparency. This book displays the ugly sides of human nature, yet it hints at tenderness due to how personal it is. Murakami expertly balances the dark themes of mental illness and suicide with humorous scenes, and the main character Toru makes me laugh quite a bit despite not being a funny character. Although the tale is set in the late 60s, it has a universal appeal that doesn’t feel dated, and ironically, despite the precise descriptions of nature and people, something about the story gives it an otherworldly feel.
Since technology was not as advanced nor widespread at the time, people were more in touch with nature, and Murakami’s description of scenery and rain was incredibly beautiful — one of my favorite aspects of the book. Even though this book was really unorthodox in its structure and plot compared to books I’ve read in the past, I rated it four stars because I feel like the protagonist helped me better understand a side of personal struggles and hardships that I hadn’t previously experienced myself. However, the book does go through a lot of poignant and deep discussion about the connection between life and death, and the open ending felt like a sudden and unrealistic rush that left no room for afterthought compared to the heavy plot. —Review by Alena S. ‘24
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