What readers think of The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, plus links to write your own review.

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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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  • Published:
    Mar 2021, 416 pages


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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World
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Karen S. (Allston, MA)

Spare writing that goes straight to the heart
This book was a gentle and irresistible invitation for me to inhabit the world of two very likeable Japanese adults who are grieving their losses from the 2011 tsunami. This author conveys their pain without insisting that the reader feel horrible, and allows us to root for the magic of the phone booth at the end of the world.
I appreciated that the book focused on Yui and Takeshi, without straying too far into the lives of the people closest to them. For me, this provided a clean and simpler focus that enhanced the story and inner lives of Yui and Takeshi.
This is not a story about a tsunami and the country it ravaged, it is really the story of grieving individuals, stumbling toward hope and supported by a unique and spiritual place.
Theresa M. (Murphysboro, IL)

A Pilgrimage of Healing
Laura Imai Messina starts off her book, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, stating that there is a real telephone booth in a garden somewhere in Japan with a disconnected telephone. Every year thousands of people make pilgrimages there to talk to their loved ones who have died.
Before I speak more about the book, I want to say that I am someone who has lived through the loss of a loved one and my review of this book comes from that perspective. With that being said, I enjoyed the variety of characters and the different ways each had of coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones. The characters were believable and memorable and I loved how their stories intertwined to form a beautiful tapestry of healing and hope.
One thing that confused me was when the story unexpectedly jumped from past to present to future. It may be the author had a reason for doing this but I found it disorienting. The time jumps did not take away from my enjoyment of the story however, and by the end of the book, I wanted to jump on a plane and go to Japan to search for the telephone booth myself.
Marganna K. (Edmonds, WA)

A Phone Booth We Could All Use
The author does a commendable job telling this story of grief, loss, love & hope. It revolves around the Japanese March 2011 tsunami, a disconnected phone - the Wind Phone - in a dilapidated hillside phone booth & two major characters, Yui & Takeshi.
It's a story of profound loss & grief told in a clean & lightly handled storytelling arc. Although there are other characters who meet in the Bell Gardia where the phone booth is, the story development stays mainly on the two main characters allowing the reader to learn many aspects of Japanese culture, food, communication...
At first I missed a heavier hand telling the story of the tragic event & it's effect on those grieving, but soon learned to appreciate the structure. Loss & grief are definitely themes of the story but soon love & hope find a way into hearts.
A quick read of this book would be beneficial - there are many thought-provoking messages lost in a slow read.
I would recommend this book to friends & also offer it as a bookclub suggestion.
Andrea B.

The Mourning After
On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered a natural catastrophe that wreaked havoc throughout its communities. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is an uplifting tale that not only describes the event's monstrous ferocity and vicious cruelty but also examines the toll that senseless and unexpected loss can exact upon survivors.

I enjoyed this work because it offered a great deal more than just a fictional narrative involving the Otsuchi wind phone. It also permitted a glimpse into modern Japanese culture and demonstrated the extremes of nature's potential. Most importantly, however, it reminded me to acknowledge and respect the elementary math of living — its addition and its subtraction.
Nicole S. (St. Paul, MN)

Beautiful prose
The writing creates a sense of sparseness. You get a sense that each word was carefully selected to carry the most weight it can. Though the backdrop is deep and troubling loss, this is ultimately a story about life and wonder. As we each must grapple deep questions about love and loss, grief and healing- this book offers a light and a path. It does not claim to solve those questions, only to widen our hearts and minds to look at the may ways we heal.
Karen W. (Atlanta, GA)

Pleasant novel about grief
How far would you go to talk to a person you lost to sudden tragedy? Evidently some would go far. This book references the actual phone booth (non-functioning) where survivors go to communicate with the departed. The varied stories of the grievers provide an interesting backdrop to two particular characters who meet and edge forward into recovering joy in their lives. The book is not depressing, but sometimes whimsical, and ultimately hopeful. Many details of daily life in Japan add interest, and the final dramatic events draw the numerous characters together, but be aware that the pace is slow. Overall a worthwhile read.
Catharine L. (Petoskey, MI)

A wonderful book. I loved the concept - a phone booth with a wind phone placed in a lovely garden. A book of grief and despair, but mostly of hope. Although tragedy is a part of these characters, they accept it, help each other, and learn to love again.
Power Reviewer
Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)

At The Edge of the Haight
There was beautiful language and lovely thoughts and messages throughout the book. The 2 main characters dealing with grief was sensitively handled, and the road to the joy and happiness that was to come was quite believable.

For me though, the timeline was off. In parts it felt rushed, and in other parts things seemed to go very slowly. This left me with a feeling of unevenness. On the whole it was a difficult topic well handled, and worth the read.

Beyond the Book:
  Grieving Places

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