I really liked this book. I was surprised how short it was, so concise. I didn’t get far when I immediately agreed with the conclusion of many other readers: the main character, Keiko Furukura, appears to be on the autism spectrum. She’s always struggled with social interactions and her behavior as a child often drew concern and criticism from other parents. She sees her actions as perfectly logical, and doesn’t understand why her family wants to “cure” her. At eighteen, she gets a job in a convenience store that seems to fit her perfectly. She likes the order in the store, the clearly laid-out rules for tasks and what to say to customers. She’s pleased to have a place where she knows exactly what to do and how to fit in. Even parrots the phrases and inflections of others around her, and sneaks peeks at brand names on her female co-workers’ clothing tags, to figure out casual wear. She’s relatively happy working there, for over a decade.
But family and friends from school- all grown now and with their own husbands and children, ask her uncomfortable questions when they visit together. When will she get a real job? or a boyfriend? Keiko doesn’t understand why she needs those things. She has no interest in relationships with men. But she feels that this is another area where she needs to fit in, or be further ostracized. So she takes in a rather shiftless fellow as a border- thinking the appearance of having a man in her life will satisfy others. At first this seems to work out. But then things start changing in her life, more expectations are thrown at her, and her neatly ordered life is no longer so tidy.
So glad I read this one. It made me laugh and think and I only wish it had been longer. Not only did it present a from-the-inside look at one woman’s quiet and nonconforming lifestyle (why shouldn’t she keep her routine and job, even though others looked down on it?), but one of the other characters seemed to be Hikikomori, I don’t know if he was supposed to be one, but he reminded me of them.
I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine next, which seems to have a similar kind of misfit character. Borrowed from the public library.