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Norwegian Wood
4.5Overall Score
Plot
Characters
Writing
Recommended

It’s hard to fault anything by Haruki Murakami if you love his writing style.

His novels are contemporary and deeply human with intrinsic characters whose lives we get to relive in our minds.

Each and every story by this acclaimed author transports the reader into a whimsical yet familiar alternate reality and the same goes for Norwegian Wood, which I think is the easiest of Murakami’s novels to read if you’re new to his work.

Touching on an adolescent culture that ignores or hides death, along with hopeless and heroic love, Murakami sheds light on these themes through the eyes of 37-year-old Toru Watanabe.

Much has happened in Toru’s life and the journey beings when he reminisces about his life back in the 1960s—a time of civil and political unrest.

Stunningly written, Norwegian Wood is a poignant coming-of-age story of a college student trying to grasp a tragedy while complicated romances ensue. Captivating right from the beginning, you’ll feel as if you’ve entered a dreamlike state while reading this novel (as with nearly every other Murakami story!).

Behind every combination of words, there is warmth in the darkness, hope buried within the depression. Death is a recurrent theme in this novel but with death, there’s rebirth.

Be warned, this book is a far cry from a humorous read. The setting is dark, cold, but there’s light even in the darkest of places.

There’s a hidden meaning behind every description, every experience a character goes through, and it’s up to you to interpret what it means or how you want it to resonate with you.

Murakami may very well be today’s William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Sylvia Plath, or Jane Austen because his storytelling reaches new heights—it stirs something new and unexplainable in the depths of our souls.

A literary superstar, Murakami never fails to teach you about yourself, relationships, humanity, nature, or something you have yet to understand but may come to understand with time.

So if you’re searching for something in your life—to find meaning or understanding—or if you find yourself in a place of uncertainty or maybe even a bit of darkness, pick up Norwegian Wood and read it at your own pace.

Contemplate the story, the characters, and your bound to have a mini revelation or two.

Summary

norwegian wood review - norwegian wood murakamiToru and Naoko share a mutual love and compassion for one another but their relationship is plagued by the tragic death of their best friend some years ago.  As Toru faces the isolation of campus life, Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of real life unbearable.  Throw the fiercely independent and liberated Midori into the mix and Toru’s heart stretches thin while Naoko retreats further into her own dark world.

Favourite quotes: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

“But who can say what’s best? That’s
why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”

Perfect place to read: in the winter, on a mountain, train, or in a snow-blanketed park or forest in Japan

If this book were a food: a delicate plate of yuki mochi 

Have you ever read this book or anything else by Murakami? What do you think of our Norwegian Wood review – do you agree?