BookBrowse Reviews The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

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The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

A Novel

by Laura Imai Messina

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai  Messina X
The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai  Messina
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2021, 416 pages

    Oct 2022, 416 pages


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About this Book



A phone booth in a garden in Japan offers the grieving the chance to speak to their deceased loved ones; the lives of two strangers on a journey of healing intersect.

Our First Impressions reviewers found The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina to be poignant and inspiring; it scored an average rating of 4.6/5 stars. Messina is a Japanese transplant originally from Italy and this novel is her English-language debut, translated from the Italian by Lucy Rand.

What it's about:

This book tells a gentle and powerful story that is still with me days after finishing it. Set in Japan after the 2011 tsunami, it centers around a real phone booth with an unconnected phone in a Japanese garden. According to an introductory note, every year thousands come to use the phone and speak with those they have lost. The main characters, Yui and Takeshi, each grieving the loss of loved ones, meet at the phone booth and come to know others who are grief-stricken (Joan R).

Our First Impressions readers appreciated the book's nuanced understanding of grief — how it is both universal and deeply individual...

As each human processes the loss of a beloved person, grief changes its face. One can feel sadness, anger, pain, denial and even fear, culminating, hopefully, in acceptance. In The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, main character Yui struggles with loss and seemingly unending grief. She is not alone, however, as others she meet have their own personal, yet similar, journeys to walk (Frances I). From tragedy to hope, the novel carries you on a journey of the human soul. It shows how grief is a personal thing for each one of us (Windell H).

...And for many, this theme resonated with their own experiences.

This book was exactly what I needed at this time, and I think it will touch so many, as we all deal with loss in many ways throughout our lives (Elyse R). Anyone who has ever experienced loss (and that's most of us), will be moved by Laura Imai Messina's beautiful The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World (Gloria F). This is a perfect book to read during our current tragic times (Joan R). In this time of so much tension, Yui's story is needed. We need to go to the phone booth and hear the wind (Mary Anne R).

Many readers commented on the author's exceptional writing and character development.

This book is beautifully written! It's easy for the reader to become immersed in the deep feelings and concerns of the many who made the journey to the phone booth (Susanna K). From the beginning I was touched by Laura Imai Messina's poetic manner of writing. She developed her characters in a delightful and loving way. I cared about each one and wanted the best for them. Yui's story is developed in many dimensions: physically, emotionally and spiritually (Mary Anne R). I loved all the characters and the development of each one in their grief and the impact the phone booth had on their healing. A wonderful book! (Jana G).

Overall, readers agreed that The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is a moving novel with a much appreciated message of hope.

I was moved to tears on more than one occasion. I needed the reminder that after the storm, after the wind, after the loss, there is still room for love, room for hope. It's one of those beautiful reads that ended too soon! (Ed R). The characters were believable and memorable and I loved how their stories intertwined to form a beautiful tapestry of healing and hope (Theresa M). The book asks fundamental questions: how is it possible to live with joy when everything comes to an end? How can we learn to live with the loss of those we loved who have died? The answers suggested by the story are profound, deeply moving and, perhaps most importantly, hopeful (Joan R).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2021, and has been updated for the October 2022 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Grieving Places


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