Fifty Words for Rain: Book summary and reviews of Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words for Rain

by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie X
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
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Book Summary

From debut author Asha Lemmie, a sweeping, heartrending coming-of-age novel about a young woman's quest for acceptance in post-World War II Japan.

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. "Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist."

Such is eight-year-old Noriko "Nori" Kamiza's first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents' imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lemmie's sweeping historical backdrop, from the post–World War II decline of minor royalty through the expanding liberations of the 1960s, is breathtaking. Unfortunately, Nori's own metamorphosis into a strong young woman is inconsistent and a bit confusing...A bold historical portrait of a woman overcoming oppression marred by inconsistent character development." - Kirkus Reviews

"Lemmie makes a few bewildering narrative choices...but she keeps the reader guessing and ends with a staggering gut punch. Sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, Lemmie's heartbreaking story of familial obligations packs an emotional wallop." - Publishers Weekly

"Lemmie's debut novel is a gripping historical tale that will transport readers through myriad emotions…Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko's complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut." - Booklist

"Fifty Words for Rain is a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together. This coming of age tale about a biracial girl in postwar Japan is an assured, confident debut by a talented new author." - Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

"This virtuosic debut enthralled me from the very first page. Lemmie's compelling and compassionate portrait of a young girl in post-WWII Japan is meticulously researched and beautifully crafted. What a heartbreaking, exceptional story by a sublime talent—I can't wait to see what she does next!" - Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

"Fifty Words for Rain is an impressive debut novel about a mixed-race girl growing up in post WWII Japan. Sensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity, Asha Lemmie tells a story that we have not heard before with an ending that is as surprising as it is brutally honest." - Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

This information about Fifty Words for Rain shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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LANI

a heart felt sweeping saga
Once you begin this book, it is hard to not be swept up into this enveloping narrative. Niko, an 8 year old Japanese child is a product of an illegitimate affair or a woman of Japanese royalty and an African American GI officer in the post world war II. I dare you to read this without your heart strings tugging . As a child she was taught to acquiese ,to not have opinions, and to obey orders at all costs. When her mother abandons her, she is sent to her haughty grandmother who houses her to avoid the shame of her skin color and her clandestine birth. She is cooped up in an attic for 2 years practicing her obedience, being the"perfect" child until the arrival of her half brother Akira. He helps her to unravel the rules that she has been subjected her whole life. The deep brother sister love dominates the book along with the controlling" Queen Grimholde."into scenes that deliver anguish. During the time she learns to have a voice, takes charge of her own life, and evolves into the woman who owns her self. A truly moving heartfelt story.

Helen

Loved the story but hated the ending.
If it had a different ending I would have given this novel a 5! The ending was very disappointing and disturbing.

Margot P

Class structure in post war Japan
Only thing that kept it from 5 stars was the amount of unresolved plot lines especially in regards to Nori’s mother, and I am not a reader who requires everything tied up at a book’s end. I suspect a sequel might be in the works. The rich historical and cultural aspects of Japanese life, especially in regards to class structure and racism was fascinating. I did find Nori’s self-injuring tendency a bit overplayed. There are a lot of adult topics here but nothing that would keep it from being a great recommendation for mature teen readers.

Disappointed Reader

Poorly written, overly dramatic
I was so excited to receive this book for Christmas. It came with such high reviews, and touted as a NY Times bestseller, I expected to be drawn into a lovely tragic story. Tragic, it was. Lovely, it was not. The author doesn’t have the natural command of language nor the imperative sense of cultural awareness to write a book with such a plot in such a setting. The book reads like a badly written tween novel, inserting American phrases and idioms into — seriously? — post-war Japan. I suggest that aspiring writers either stick to what they know or do the research required when writing about historical eras and geographical regions in which they are ill-educated.

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Author Information

Asha Lemmie

Asha Lemmie was born in Virginia and raised in Maryland. She attended school in Washington, D.C., where she was fortunate to be exposed to a wide variety of cultural influences. She developed a passionate interest in reading at the age of two and has been writing stories since the age of five. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, she relocated to New York City, where she worked in book publishing. Fifty Words for Rain is her first novel.

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