Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - Book Review

Monday, July 30, 2018

cover of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami


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.(Goodreads)

First, I just want to mention that I made the mistake of reading this and NOT writing down all my thoughts or a review until a month later. Therefore, this review is without a doubt nowhere near as detailed as it should be.

Secondly, I am totally in love with the way Murakami writes. I know I'm reading a translation, but each of his books I have read has this similar flowy/spaceyness to it that just makes it so easy for me to find myself lost in his stories.

Norwegian Wood tackles mental illness in a way that is realistic instead of romantic (like the movie does, unfortunately). Suicides are mentioned, but they never really become the focus, instead just presented as something that sadly happens. The world doesn't stop, it keeps going. The story shows us multiple ways that people deal with this type of tragedy, grieving before being able to move on and the additional tragedy of becoming stuck, unable to continue. 

I really appreciated how this was dealt with in the book. Something I did find confusing though, was all the comments on the way Toru talks. Nothing he said seemed weird to me, but that may have been something that was lost in translation. He definitely comes off as a very lost young man for the majority of the book and I loved how his moment of "growing up" was done.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Book & Author Information: Goodreads

Published: September 4th, 1987

Haruki Murakami: Goodreads, Official Site

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