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Fault Lines: Shortlisted for the 2021 Costa First Novel Award

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A novel/short story collection that addressed similar themes in a more dynamic way is So We Look to the Sky by Misumi Kubo, which I read earlier this year and greatly enjoyed. Itami does a great job of describing the protagonist’s bicultural upbringing too and how it affects her perspective on life.

For me though, this rang so very true and so many of Mizuki’s thoughts and regrets really resonated with me. It started off better than expected and in the first few chapters I so wanted to smack Pom I found it upsetting. Although she situates these ideas in a very specific social context, Itami manages to make them universal. He assures people who are estranged, and those who care about them, that they are not alone and that fissures can be bridged.I thought the relationship between Mizuki and her distant husband, and the relationship between Mizuki and Kiyoshi were also really well-written. Through the wisdom of people who have “been there,” Fault Lines shows how healing is possible through clear steps that people can use right away in their own families. We are quickly brought into her past; the part about her study abroad in the United States in New York (instantly noticed the dynamic though of her being put into a rich white family, that was pretty interesting to look at for me), how she learned to live outside of the more strict structure of Japanese society.

Despite the solemn subjects of adultery and suicide, there was a lightness to the main character’s self critique. With Fault Lines, Karl Pillemer courageously rappels into the deep social crevice created by these devastating rifts. It's rare to find a character that truly embodies the contradictions of contemporary motherhood, so thank goodness for Mizuki. Emily’s measured and taut writing means you totally feel the claustrophobic and limited world that Mitzuki is part of.

As she begins to spend more and more time with Kiyoshi, she opens herself up to new experiences and learns important things about herself. What a wonderful review Clare 🤩 I could feel your love for this book resonating through me as I was reading! Emily Itami was able to put together a rollercoaster of emotions and the reader just needs to enjoy the ride. I will admit, however, is that the reader’s thick British accent is not what I would’ve envisioned for this novel.

I seem to remember now from previous Siddons books I'd read long ago that her style is a bit blowsy with completely unrealistic dialogue and wildly improbably scene-setting.At its core, this is a story of a woman struggling as a wife and mother and trying to find comfort and emotional connection, or even just remember who she was in her pre-marriage life. When Mizuki meets a man named Kiyoshi and feels the frisson of a new relationship, it’s hard not to root for her pleasure. For some it may seem that Mizuki’s behavior is somehow being justified or romanticized, but I really appreciated that her portrayal and that of her marriage, felt honest. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives - and in the end, we can choose only one.

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