Fifty Words for Rain, by Asha Lemmie is the beautiful tale of Nori. The story takes place in Japan after the end of WWII. After the war ended Japan became a very different place. The US occupied Japan and the emperor was stripped of most of his power. The Japanese aristocracy was abolished, but people still remembered who had titles in the past. In the beginning of the book a young Nori is dropped off at the front door of her grandmother’s house by her mother, who disappears afterwards. Nori had never met her Obaasama before, but quickly learns her family is old Japanese aristocracy, and her mother was considered a princess. Her grandmother treats Nori awfully. Being born out of wedlock she is considered not part of the family and an embarrassment. Her grandmother keeps her locked in the attic and only appears occasionally to beat her.
They say there’s are fifty words for rain, one for each and every kind you can imagine.Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
A Sibling Connection
Nori’s discovery of a half brother is her only chance to escape the confines created by her grandmother. Slowly Nori inserts herself into Akira’s life. He tolerates her presence but never outwardly enjoys her company. Nori on the other hand, becomes almost obsessed with her brother and craves his love and attention. This is not at all surprising after being abandoned by her mother and rejected by her grandmother Nori just wants the love and affection every human deserves. Although Akira seems to lack any emotion or acceptance of his sister, it becomes clear he does in fact feel great love for her. This is shown by his actions, they are slow and minor at first. He starts to demand small privileges for her, and is able to insist on these because of his position as the only heir of the family fortune. It might seem Akira is as heartless as his grandmother, but really he is just being strategic, which is necessary when dealing with his grandparents. Some families kill bastard children the minute they are born, Akira must make sure that he doesn’t do anything to encourage them to get rid of Nori. If they think she is influencing him or distracting him from his duties, they would see her as a threat to their family name.
This is most unreasonable of you. She is such a nothing that you should not consider her at all.Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
Abandonment is a big theme in this book. Both Nori and Akira feel abandoned by their mother. Nori craves the love she never felt from her mother or her Obaasama. When she finds Akira does not reject her attention, she follows him around, but timidly, afraid of loosing what she has finally found. But also desperate to be in his presence of the one person who has shown her affection. She doesn’t want to release the dream of her mother returning, even as she starts to realize she is not returning, she finds ways to stay close to her mothers memory.
Akira is reluctant to give his love, for him their mothers abandonment has made him hard and protective of his emotions. He shows he cares for his sister by his actions. He recognizes her brilliance, so agrees to teach her violin, so they can share a love of music. He defies his grandparents, and try’s to gain her freedom little by little.
“Where is she?” It seemed strange that a question that had weighed on her for so long, that had consumed her and dictated in some strange way every single footstep she placed in the ground, could be so simply put: three little words. That was it.Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
From the beginning Nori is a survivor. She doesn’t realize her strength at first, she is afraid, small and powerless and she thinks this makes her weak. Instead she is the opposite, she stands proud when faced with hardship and never lets it crush her. Even death she faces with dignity. The friends she makes are able to help when she is at her lowest, because they see the strength in her and want her to succeed. The sad thing about Fifty Words for Rain, is her inability to escape her family and her duty and live a free life.
The less that was expected of her, the more she could get away with. It had taken her a long time to learn this. Meekness was not weakness. And boldness was not strength.Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie
If you liked this book…
I read Memories of a Geisha several years ago and loved it. It is one of my all time favourite books that got me interested in historical fiction, and learning about other cultures. The book follows Sayuri from a young child sold to a Geisha house all the way to the adult she becomes. Its sad story, that parallels the loss of tradition and culture, and the unfortunate treatment of the Geishas.
The Ghost Bride introduced me to Chinese folklore, and the world of the dead. It is a beautifully written story that fantasies what the world of the dead may be like. Li Lan is from a poor family but is offered a chance to be a ghost bride to their deceased son. This would guarantee a home for Li Lan, but at a terrible price.
Everything here is Beautiful is about the connection between two sisters. Miranda is the responsible one and is always there to protect her younger sister Lucia. As they grow up, it becomes clear Lucia struggles with mental health, and Miranda struggles to provide support.