It’s been a long time since I posted here. I haven’t been doing a lot of reading. I was taking classes and I’m finally finished and then some other life things happened. But I’m back with a book review.
Title: The Boy in the Earth
Author: Fuminora Nakamura
Publisher: Soho Crime
Release Date: July 26, 2005
**PLEASE check the trigger warnings before reading this book because there are a lot.
What can I say about this book? Nakamura packed a lot into a mere 160 pages.
Summary: Our narrator is an unnamed taxi driver in Tokyo who engages in risky behavior due to his traumatic past. His risky behavior is triggered after he gets a call from the orphanage he was raised in calls him and tells him that his biological father who abandoned him wants to him. He has thoughts of suicide and returning to the earth (ground or dirt).
What Popped: It’s fast-paced. Nakamura uses short sentences and each word is chosen carefully. Although descriptions are brief, the reader still gets a full picture of the person or location.
What Flopped: Nothing really flopped. There were a couple of times I got lost because I didn’t feel that it was made clear as to who was talking or the action wasn’t properly set up.
My Thoughts: As I said at the beginning, please check the trigger warnings before reading this book. The Boy in the Earth at its core is a book about life & death, surviving traumatic events, mental health, and human nature & society. It is also an indictment of human nature and society.
Whenever I start reading a book, I always wonder what the connection the title has to the story; but I feel as though this was made clear early on. He says after he was attacked that he
might be absorbed by the earth, deep underground
The narrator continually refers to the earth, returning to the earth, there is a mention of earthworms, and mentions/illusions of being buried alive. I”ve only read one other book by Nakamura which was The Gun and I really enjoyed it. When I started reading this book, I immediately got The Gun vibes and thought that this just may be his writing style and I’m loving it.
Anyway, The Boy in the Earth is an indictment of human nature and society which is portrayed through the main character and even to some degree his girlfriend, Sayuko. Their relationship is dysfunctional at best and they are both afraid of having any type of meaningful relationship because of their traumatic pasts that involved people that claimed to love and care for me. Society allowed the narrator to be physically and mentally abused as a child by his adopted parents and did not step in until the very end. Literally the very end. And society allows for Sayuko’s abuse and continued abuse by other members of society.
The book is also about surviving trauma and the mental health issues related to the trauma. Because the narrator was physically abused by his adopted parents on a daily basis he relates his relationship with pain when he is being beaten by a biker gang. A beating which he instigated.
I was in a state of excitement. I knew that was not an appropriate way to feel in this situation. . . I was definitely waiting for something yet to come. (p. 9)
Sayuko, the narrator’s girlfriend, also engages in thrill-seeking behavior. She goes out on a regular basis, gets drunk and it appears that during some of her drunken stupors she may have been sexually assaulted. She drinks in order to forget her abuse. Whereas the narrator engages in fights to connect with life.
I’m not really sure how I feel about the ending. What I will say is that it wasn’t tied up in a nice neat bow, but I felt there was a level of convenience that I didn’t care for. Having said that with all the trauma and negative behavior the reader is left with a sense of hope for the future of the narrator and Sayuko.
Trigger Warnings: Addiction, Alcoholism, Bullying, Child abuse, Child death, Death, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Forced institutionalization, Grief, Mental illness, Miscarriage , Panic attacks/disorders, Physical abuse, Self harm, Suicidal thoughts, Suicide attempt, and Violence