Cori’s Pick: Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
In Asha Lemmie’s emotional and twisty debut, Nori Kamiza is a half-Black girl born illegitimately into a noble Japanese family in 1940. The saga begins with Nori’s mother dropping her at the steps of her grandparents’ Kyoto estate. From there, we learn that Nori’s dark skin and kinky hair will not bring her recognition as the true young beauty she is. Instead it brings the family shame and she is constantly reminded that she is a burden they must bear, and hide.
This coming-of-age tale follows Nori and her older half-brother Akira (that she didn’t know she had) throughout their young lives, weaving in other minor characters that really do enhance the story. I really enjoyed the book’s storyline and found it captivating. There are moments of triumph and moments where your heart shatters. I sped through chapters, waiting to see Nori’s transformation into a young and empowered woman. Near the end the reader gets glimpses of Nori’s independence; however the final pages put an abrupt spin on things that left me wondering what the author will offer us in her next novel.
I love reading debut fiction and this one did not disappoint! I feel like Asha put her heart and soul into this sweeping family saga and it kept me emotionally involved until the last word. Looking back, some of the character development may seem indecisive…or maybe inconsistent, but those were an afterthought and didn’t keep me from hanging on her every word. If you’re looking for a great new author, I highly recommend this one!