South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami felt very much like a continuation of Norwegian Wood when I first began the book (but it’s not!). Norwegian Wood was my first Murakami book and I enjoyed it so much I decided to read more by this author. South of the Border, West of the Sun is a haunting read about a mid-life crisis. Hajime, a 37 year old man, is stuck in the past. Unable to let go of the love he feels for his friend, Shimamoto, whom he has not seen since they were 12 years old, he embarks on a journey that almost costs him everything.
The idea that our memories idealize our past relationships hits close to home for me. Not in a romantic sense, but I often think so fondly of friends that I haven’t really known since high school. All that ties me to them are the memories, and the occasional texts, but is there really a relationship there? Murakami explores this to a greater and more relevant extent. He is married with two children and runs two successful bars. His life, on the outside, seems idyllic but he’s lost in an internal turmoil that has him willing to throw it all away to give a future with Shimamoto a chance.
Shimamoto is mysterious and sometimes a little off kilter. She reveals very little about herself and I got the sense that Hajime was as confused about her as the reader. Hajime ultimately gives in and sleeps with Shimamoto once, but even though he cheated on his wife the sex manages to not feel dirty. Murakami manages to treat sex with a sort of purity and innocence.
In the end Hajime knows that he has to do and it doesn’t feel like a compromise. Not even a little.
For anybody that’s interested, all books that I review on my blog are either purchased by me (with my husband’s money :p) or borrowed from the library. I do not write sponsored posts or receive any form of compensation for anything that I write. I write this blog for fun. If this ever changes I will clearly say so at the TOP of my posts.