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Sputnik Sweetheart Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ is a novel that works its way quietly through the mind, awakening the senses and forcing you to look at the world through a different window. Like many of Murakami’s characters, we are introduced to a set of young adults, who have somehow made it through the first stages of their life, but seem to be lost as to where they go from there.

Sumire, a young college drop-out with dreams of being a Japanese Kerouac meets Miu, a woman twice her age who she slowly begins to fall in love with. Confused by her reaction to Miu, Sumire turns to K, her college friend who harbours his own secret love for Sumire. Identifying Sumire as a young woman with no definable goal in life, Miu takes her under her wing and introduces her into the world of enterprise. Under K’s watchful gaze, Sumire begins to blossom into a different, more confident woman. This transformation however gives rise to other more serious problems, until one day Sumire mysteriously disappears and in her wake, strange truths begin to disturb the surface of everyone’s past.

Murakami’s chosen leitmotifs, symbols, and stories often seem totally disassociated, but in this novel they manage to fall like tetris-pieces into a beautiful pattern that is both disturbing and beautiful at the same time.

In this novel, the loss of ones soul, the ridding of the pubescent self and the haphazard journey into ‘becoming’ an adult is portrayed as lonely and full of painful sacrifices. We may have friends to keep us company along the way, but what purpose do they really serve? The title ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ is well-chosen, as the haunting story of Laika (the poor dog who was sacrificed for scientific progression) returns again and again to hammer home how humans often sacrifice their closest life companions in order to understand more about the mystery of themselves.

After reading four Murakami books, I see that his writing stands out from the rest of his peers for its controlled simplicity. The man has a story to tell, and his job is to tell it as clearly as possible. When a person has a story, they don’t waste time embellishing the background. And so it is that everything he writes stands out fresh and bold and strong. I find that this is an advantage, as he never tires his readers, but leaves them with a set of impressions that linger long after the story is finished.

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