Review: Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

sputnik-sweetheart1Ah. Murakami. It’s a long time since I’ve completely immersed myself in a Murakami – by that I mean it’s a long time since I found one of his novels so utterly readable. Murakami is a very hit and miss author for me, while I sometimes love his work there have been a number of books that I’ve read and really struggled through.

Sputnik Sweetheart was one of the more readable and approachable of Murakami’s work from what I’ve experienced. While not as packed full of his usual magical realism elements, it was still a good read once I got in to it.

We follow the story of Sumire, a young woman who falls in love with another woman – Miu. It’s told from the perspective of Sumire’s friend, who we only know as K. We follow the period of Sumire’s life in which she meets Miu and how their lives overlap and fall in to sync with each other, we follow them on a tour of Europe when something then happens to Sumire.

It’s an interesting look at passion and the borderline with obsession. It was an interesting look at sexual fluidity and desire. But there was something lacking, some of this felt rushed and some felt that it wasn’t giving me all it could. The ending was just “boom and I’m done” and that frustrated me somewhat because, as always, Murakami left the ending up to interpretation for the reader rather than closing it all nicely and putting a bow on it!

This was a very passive narration which I think really fitted the story well. It was fluid and easy to read, it was quick to read. It just left me feeling a little empty. I think with Murakami, instant impressions are not a fair representation of his work because often I have to settle down and think about what I’ve actually read and process it fully. Sometimes my impressions are improved, or in the case of Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, my initial impressions are generous!

My main thought with this book is that I really need to go and read 1Q84 again because this reminded me of it so much! Mainly the focus on the moon which was a really big focus in 1Q84.

So, ultimately this is one of the better of Murakami’s books I’ve read but still left me wanting more. First impressions give this a 3/5!

Review: Heidi – Johanna Spyri

heidiThis book has been on my radar for a long while and, this edition is one that I just couldn’t resist! As it is a beautiful shade of green it was a perfect pick for the ‘green’ section of the rainbow read-a-thon which is happening this week!

So, Heidi if you didn’t know is a children’s classic and is one of the most loved children’s books in Switzerland! This is just the most wonderfully optimistic children’s books I’ve read. I absolutely devoured this in only a couple of hours because it was just so lovely.

The story follows Heidi, who at the start of this novel is 5 and is sent up a mountain to live with her grandfather – a hermit who noone really likes. In the fashion of books of this era, our little protagonist brings out the best in the old man, and he brings out the best in her. Her life up the mountain, with her grandfather, the goats and the goatherd – Peter – is idyllic. The first half is her exploring this life and falling in to it and some of it is just beautiful; descriptions of sunsets and mountaintops that are so rich I felt I was there.

The second half is following Heidi after she’s taken from the mountain to live in Frankfurt to be a companion to a young disabled girl. She deals with homesickness but she also finds friendship and faith. I don’t often like books with a religious overtone, however this book the Christianity was done with such grace and understanding it didn’t feel preachy (unlike Little Women!)

The ending of this book is just one that gave me the warm fuzzies, it’s the only way I can describe it. This book was just a delightful read and one I can see myself rereading in the future! I’d happily give this a 4/5 – it’s not my favourite children’s novel but it’s definitely up there!