Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review

The Rental Sister
by Jeff Backhaus

Disclaimer:  I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

This novel was incredibly sad on so many levels.  A family tragedy is the catalyst for Thomas' isolation in his room.  He's locked himself in for the last three years; only coming out occasionally in the middle of the night when he needs to stock up on groceries.  Can you imagine not seeing your spouse for that long?  Or anybody, really, except for the few people you pass on the street on your way to the convenience store.

Megumi is the woman hired by Thomas' wife (Silke) to talk to him and try to coax him out.  Her brother was once in the same situation when she still lived in Japan.  I'm a little confused about how Silke found Megumi in the first place.  She seems to know the owner of the shop Megumi works at who suggested hiring Megumi.  But how did she find the owner?  Was there an ad somewhere for these situations?  Maybe in Japan, where there is an actual term for this ("Hikikomori"), but in New York City?

Megumi begins to get through to Thomas, and their relationship grows fairly drastically.  Silke seems to be aware of their feelings, but lets it continue, because she's not exactly innocent either.  There's a lot of hurt going back and forth, but the hurt is a lot better than the silence that used to be there.  And maybe you have to hit rock bottom in order to start healing.

Having never been in this situation or experienced this amount of loss, I can't say how true to life the characters reactions are.  But, it all felt believable to me. 

Read more reviews about this book on LibraryThing.