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Books about subversive women in Japan are books I’ve never read.
Keiko Furukura is a convienience store worker in a popular chain store in Japan.
Think small branches of Tesco or Sainsburys that stock the basics, but also supply hot food and drinks.
So far, so average right?
What is it about?
The book is about Keiko discovering she’s not quite normal from a very young age.
She takes everything a bit literally, and often ends up in trouble until she literally shuts herself down and learns to copy behaviours and speech patterns of others just to fit in.
Since she was 19, she has been working in the same convenience store for 18 years, and what started as a part-time job until she graduated, turned into her only job.
Keiko does not have a significant other, and has no other hobbies apart from working at the Convenience Store.
What makes this book interesting is we see things from Keiko’s point of view, and how she is perfectly happy with her life, but others are suspicious.
Why has she not made a move to another profession?
Why does she not have a Partner?
Why is she living alone?
All these things come to a head when a new co-worker joins the Smile Mart and ends up convincing Keiko that he should stay with her to convince people he’s her boyfriend.
Naturally, this causes a massive scandal among her friends and co-workers, and she realises there was a whole hidden world that she was not aware of until Shiraha comes into her life.
Their time together is very strange, but it helps Keiko realise what she really wants and what society wants are two different things.
The ending is left ambiguous, but I like that about the book.
Would I recommend it?
If you’re in the mood for a different but short book then this is perfect and a great introduction to Japanese society and norms.
The other characters are like background noise, but also a very real depiction of how females around the world are viewed around the world if they don’t seem to succeed in society’s viewpoint.
Keiko’s sister seems to be the only one who understands her and helps her to come up with alibis as to why she is working in the Convenience Store at 36.
It reminds me of, My Sister, The Serial Killer which is also about two sisters, but in this case, Keiko’s sister only helps to a point unlike Ayoola’s sister, Korede.
This is a short, fascinating read which I would highly recommend.