Review: Norwegian Woods

Ashley Hoang, Features Editor

Haruki Murakami’s novels gained immense popularity among the younger generation for its slice-of-life plots and themes of naivetivity and flawed love. Like the famous Beatles song bearing the same name, this novel explores the complicated love between two young adults. However, the similarities stop there. Norwegian Wood emerges readers into the mind of 18 year-old Toru Watanabe, a young college student who is indifferent to everything after the suicide of his best friend, Kizuki. His unmoved state of mind changes as he falls in and out of his troubling relationships with two very different women — the complicated childhood friend Naoko and the eccentric and lively classmate Midori — and his inner struggle of holding on or concealing his grief.

The novel, minimalistic with its writing but complex with its plot, is emotionally engaging and best suited for those who enjoy a read a little less light with its themes of suicide, isolation, and sex. However, these darker themes are balanced by Murakami’s beautiful and detailed descriptions of the settings and characters. The pace of the plot may be slow at times, and readers may have to find themselves looking for the deeper meanings because of the character’s simple dialogue. Nonetheless, this poignant story about love and life is an engaging read for young adults who enjoys being immersed into the vivid story.

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