Thursday 27 May 2021

Book Review: So We Look to the Sky by Kubo Misumi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: So We Look to the Sky
Author: Kubo Misumi
Publisher: Arcade
Publication Date: 3 August 2021 (2010)
eBook - EPUB
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley 

Searingly honest and sexually explicit, So We Look to the Sky is a novel told in five linked stories that begin with an affair between a student and a woman ten years his senior, who picks him up for cosplay sex in a comics market. Their scandalous liaison, which the woman's husband makes public by posting secretly taped video online, frames all of the stories, but each explores a different aspect of the life passages and hardships ordinary people face. A teenager experimenting with sex and then, perhaps, experiencing love and loss; a young, anime-obsessed wife bullied by her mother-in-law to produce the child she and her husband cannot conceive; a high-school girl, spurned by the student, realizing that being cute and fertile is all others expect of her; the student's best friend, who lives in the projects and is left alone to support and care for his voracious, senile grandmother; and the student's mother, a divorced single parent and midwife, who guides women bringing new life into this world and must rescue her son, crushed by the twin blows of public humiliation and loss, from giving up on his own.

Narrating each story in the distinctive voice of its protagonist, Misumi Kubo weaves themes including sex, love, the female body, gossip, the bullying that leaves young people feeling burdened and helpless into a profoundly original novel that lingers in the mind for its affirmation of the raw, unquellable force of life.


So We Look to the Sky by Kubo Misumi is a book that doesn't pull punches even from page one. It is highly sexually explicit, so if that's not your cup of tea you should probably not pick it up, but if that doesn't worry you, the story offers a thoughtful glimpse at a selection of characters all trying to deal with life's various hardships, from bullying to sex, to social status and single parenthood. Each chapter offers a different POV; although all the characters are linked in some way. Thus, we see the book's inciting incident through many different perspectives. I was captivated by the piece right from the get go and continued to find it interesting and engaging until the end. The prose flowed nicely, and it was a reasonably short work at 172 pages, making it a quick read that I finished over two nights. It gets 4.5-stars from me, which I would round up to a five.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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