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Fault Lines: Shortlisted for the 2021 Costa First Novel Award

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Is her relationship with Kiyoshi the key to happiness, or just the seismic shift she needs to confront what her life has become before it's too late?

The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered national attention.We are quickly brought into her past; the part about her study abroad in the United States in New York (instantly noticed the dynamic though of her being put into a rich white family, that was pretty interesting to look at for me), how she learned to live outside of the more strict structure of Japanese society. Merrick slowly realizes that she needs to start taking care of herself too, but it is a long, wild, journey. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable and the plot itself was completely unbelieveable.

Her husband abides by the cultural expectations, working hard every day and barely seeing their two children, Aki and Eri. Regular afternoon rendezvous with Kiyoshi shake her free from a stilted existence, and it quickly becomes clear she is in deep ( "[T]he smell of his skin, the feel of his hair under my fingers and I don't care about anything else on earth. I think if Kiyoshi and Mizuki’s relationship were more platonic then I would’ve enjoyed it a bit more. She narrates the story, so we get a good dose of her wants and what disappoints her, though she does love her kids. This is an achingly realistic representation of the feelings associated with being a woman who is married and has young children.Mitzuki, the protagonist of Emily Itami’s brilliant debut novel Fault Lines, finds herself not only submerged in a world of expectation and comparison, but is also trying to face the cultural expectations that are placed on Mitzuki as a Japanese housewife. Her name is Mizuki and she has two children, a businessman hubby with a good work ethic, and a beautiful home. However, Mizuki is bored in her life as the “perfect” Tokyo housewife, and she feels trapped in this city of expectations and pressure. Moving, yet never saccharin; darkly funny but never mean; about the way love can consume you but also about how important it is to find space for oneself. In a country with a myriad of customs and social conventions, she is constantly trying to be what everyone else wants her to be, and has learned to put her own needs and desires reluctantly to one side.

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