& Recommendations

with Abby Kernya

IG @abbykernya



by Harkuri Murakami Translator Alfred Birnbaum (1989) Jay Rubin (2000)

Genre: Coming of age novel,  Romance novel  

Recommended Age:  16+ readers

Rating Scale: 0-5

Educational value: 4/5  

Positive message: 4/5​ 

Positive role models: 2/5​

Violence: 3/5

Sex: 5/5 

Language: 3/5​ 

Drinking, drugs, smoking: 5/5 ​

Consumerism: 0/5

As soon as I picked up Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, it was a hard one to put down. I kept finding myself wanting more, and being sucked in with every turn of the page. Norwegian Wood follows the life of Toru Watanabe as he reminisces his life as a Japanese college student in the late 1960’s. The life of Watanabe seems ordinary from the outside, he is a drama major who works in a record shop and likes to read. However, underneath his hard exterior is a closet full of skeletons. 

This novel navigates the complexities of Toru’s life. From loosing his best friend to suicide, coping with grief and loss, to the rollercoaster of his first love and heartbreak. Throughout the novel Toru battles with his love for two very different women. His first love is Naoko, a young girl from his childhood, who struggles to cope with her own demons after the death of her sister and best friend. He also loves Midori, an outgoing realist from his class who opens his eyes to a new reality, one full of fresh ideas and dying relatives.

Haruki Murakami truly delivers a coming of age novel like no other; a story full of unanswered questions, the painful reality of mental illness, and choosing to walk your own path in life. 

Norwegian Wood beautifully captures how it feels to be stuck in the past, while everyone around you moves forward. From beginning to end, this book will have you completely captivated and engaged with every character. If you are looking for a read that truly makes you understand the difference between living and surviving, I highly recommend Norwegian Wood.

Image by Gaelle Marcel

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