I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
I was so happy to see that there was a new Haruki Murakami book, in Playaway audio no less, available in my library. I have a hopeless literary crush on Murakami, and this latest only deepens it for me.
When Tsukuru Tazaki was in high school, he formed a deep, close friendship with four classmates, two male and two female. The five of them all volunteered for an after-school program, tutoring younger children. When it came time to choose their universities, Tsukuru was the only one who chose to leave their home city of Nagoya. He chose to go to Tokyo in order to study with a professor who was an expert in railroad-station construction, his chosen field.
The summer after sophomore year, just as he was about to turn 20, his group rejected him. One of the male members spoke to him (after all four had repeatedly dodged his phone calls) to tell him that he was not to contact them ever again. He was too stunned to ask why, but the rejection caused him to descend into a deep depression. Although he did not make a decisive suicide attempt, he came close to starving himself to death while thinking about how much he wanted to die. Eventually, he was able to return to normal activities, began to eat normally again, and regained his lost strength through regular exercise. However, he was permanently changed, both in appearance and internally.
Sixteen years after the rejection, Tsukuru's girlfriend Sara urges him to track down his lost friends and learn their reasons for having rejected him. She perceives that their rejection continues to exist as a psychic wound that holds Tsukuru back from ever fully connecting with another person. After an initial reluctance, he agrees.
What he discovers through his reunions with his old friends is, indeed, as life-changing as Sara suspects. In the process, he learns that there is huge discrepancy between the way he imagined his friends perceived him and the way they actually did (he thought of himself as "colorless," dull, and expendable).
As I got close to the end, I realized that the resolution was not going to be as complete as I had hoped. I have complained in other reviews about the prevalence of open endings. However, I did feel that the narrative ended on a hopeful note, and that was what I craved.