Wednesday 12 August 2020

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

This audio book was gifted to me via Tandem Collective by Bonnier Books for the Phone Box read along. 

After losing her mum and daughter in the tsunami of 2011, Yui wonders how she will continue  to live without them.  Only after listening to a guest on her radio show, does she hear about the disused telephone box at the end of a garden, where mourners trek for miles to speak to their lost loved ones. Yoi decides to visit the telephone box for herself and this is where she meets Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose young daughter hasn't spoked since her passing. Their chance meeting opens up a new path for both of them to follow.

This book is both tragic and beautiful at the same time. All the characters burrow into your heart and you want to hug them and be there for them in their time of grief. The story shows the depth that grief can take. Also, how you can grieve the living as well as the dead. It also shows how loneliness can escalate grief. Talking to someone in a similar situation can help ease the pain. Grief has no time limit. It isn't something you can just get over or put to the back of your mind. The characters in the book, don't get over their grief,  they learn to live with it. 

I loved the idea of using the phone box to talk to their lost loved ones. It gave the book a magical feel, as though the phone box was a gateway between the living and the dead. When someone dies, you wonder if you ever told them how much you loved them enough. You want to share the tiny details of your life that they have missed and the phone box really helps the visitors in their grieving process. What I found fascinating about this was that the phone box actually exists and if you look it up on the internet, you will read some wonderful articles on it.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World only confirmed my new found love of Japanese translations. If you loved Before The  Coffee Gets Cold, you will love this one too. Both books have a gentleness to their styles. The audio version of this book was utterly mesmerising. The voice has such a calmness to it, you leave the book feeling extremely calm and relaxed. 

As many of you may know, August is Women in Translation month, so this is a perfect book to start with.  

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