Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Norwegian wood is the story of a much older Toru Watanabe reminiscing about his youth and his experience with love, death and depression. Surrounded by flawed people trying their best to come in term with their own flaws or giving up along the way and lives they left behind in their wake. Be it his best and only friend Kizuki, first first love Naoko or Midori the girl he falls in love along the way. Ultimately this is a distasteful book talking about distasteful things with a kind of distasteful honesty, the very worst kind indeed.

It was deep beyond measuring, and crammed full of darkness, as if all the world’s darknesses had been boiled down to their ultimate density.

Haruki Murakami

Toru moves to Tokyo, shortly after his friend’s suicide; coming to tokyo to study was his way of dealing with the death of his friend. Here he meets Naoko his dead friends girlfriend, they take about many things often avoiding mentioning his dead friend. Seeking company among themselves, people who faced the same pains. A seething insight into the lives of people affected deeply by a death and their descend into depression is what follows. Murakami takes his time slowly describing this descend and its devastating consequences. Stories that repeat itself over and over.

The second act introduces Midori, someone who had to endure similar tragedies, with the death of her mother and a father who takes it too hard. They slowly form a stoic friendship, slowly developing into the only thing that keeps our protagonist from falling into the abyss all around him. Yet the very thing that unites them threaten their friendships just as much. Toru often find himself torn between all this. Murakami’s mastery of words are what makes the lows of Toru’s life heart wrenching and his highs elating.

The dead will always be dead, but we have to go on living.

Haruki Murakami

What makes this book truly great for me was the very last paragraph, The kind of open ended ending that leaves you fuming, yet in this case its hardly ambiguous, Whether a certain someone came to help Toru or not can be left to the imagination, nevertheless we know 20 years later Toru is not an emotional wreck of a man but someone who occasionally thinks of his past when Norwegian Woods by Beatles are played.

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