Some stories are written in such a way that their words penetrate your skin to go straight through to your bones and into the very marrow of your being. As soon as I read the first two pages of this book, I knew that Tsukuru Tazaki’s years of pilgrimage was going to be such a story.
If I had to describe what the book is about in two lines, I would call it a tale of rejection, a tale in which Tsukuru Tazaki is cut off by his really close high school friends without any explanation and how years later he goes in search for the reason behind this brutal rejection.
But describing this book in two lines would be grossly unfair because the true essence of the story is in the details. In the way it enumerates what it feels like to be rejected, especially by people who you have loved with all your heart and soul. If you have ever had your heart broken, Tsukuru’s journey to the brink of death and back will resonate deeply.
The sense of helplessness and powerlessness that he feels, the dreamlike quality of his days when he is in the throes of pain, the deep wound within his soul that affects his relationships even in later years and the utter loneliness of his existence enveloped me to create an aura of pain all around as I read the book.
Interestingly, despite the fantastical bend of his feelings, what I loved about Tsukuru is that eventually, he is firmly grounded in reality. Also, his story, even though extremely sad and desolate, had this weird sense of strength and hope. He takes charge and goes in search of answers and it is really brave the way he does it.
At the end of the book, I felt at peace. I was able to allow myself to feel the absolute dejection and desolation of heart-break and rejection. Not only that, I was also able to accept the many incomplete answers that I have received for my zillion questions. Tsukuru’s journey had a cathartic effect on me and I made my own mental journey through the deserted landscape of my life as I read his story.
The book is over but the words will remain with me and I will keep going back to the sensations and feelings that the various scenes of Tsukuru’s life evoked and derive either comfort, strength or hope from them.