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Fault Lines

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Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everythin Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether she would rather throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband and hanging up laundry. Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives—and in the end, we can choose only one. Funny, provocative, and startlingly honest, Fault Lines is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and asked, who am I and how did I get here? A bittersweet love story and a piercing portrait of female identity, it introduces Emily Itami as a debut novelist with astounding resonance and wit.


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Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everythin Combining the incisive intimacy of Sally Rooney with the sharp wit of Helen Fielding, a compulsively readable and astonishingly relatable debut novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo Mizuki is a Japanese housewife. She has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It’s everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether she would rather throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband and hanging up laundry. Then, one rainy night, she meets Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. In him, she rediscovers freedom, friendship, and the neon, electric pulse of the city she has always loved. But the further she falls into their relationship, the clearer it becomes that she is living two lives—and in the end, we can choose only one. Funny, provocative, and startlingly honest, Fault Lines is for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and asked, who am I and how did I get here? A bittersweet love story and a piercing portrait of female identity, it introduces Emily Itami as a debut novelist with astounding resonance and wit.

30 review for Fault Lines

  1. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    Some days I can't quite work out how I got here; I opted for the guy, I opted for the kids, I just didn't realize that meant waving goodbye to everything else. On the surface, Mizuki has it all: a handsome husband, two beautiful children, and a lovely home in bustling and frenetic Tokyo. So why does she feel so lonely and sad? Then she meets Kiyoshi and he makes her feel alive again. But she knows what she is doing can't go on, and she will have to make a choice soon. But how can she decide b Some days I can't quite work out how I got here; I opted for the guy, I opted for the kids, I just didn't realize that meant waving goodbye to everything else. On the surface, Mizuki has it all: a handsome husband, two beautiful children, and a lovely home in bustling and frenetic Tokyo. So why does she feel so lonely and sad? Then she meets Kiyoshi and he makes her feel alive again. But she knows what she is doing can't go on, and she will have to make a choice soon. But how can she decide between impossible choices? My heart aches for Mizuki. What she wants—what we all want—is to be seen and understood. But her traditional role as a housewife and her husband's rejection of her as anything other than a servant to him and a caretaker of their children makes that impossible. The building up of her loneliness, made all the more acute because she is surrounded by her family, feels hopeless and gut-wrenching. As a woman, I was instantly sympathetic to Mizuki and her plight. I imagine most readers will relate to her, especially if they have ever been the nurturer in the relationship. When she sought to find that basic human connection with Kiyoshi, I couldn't help but cheer for her. To see her rediscover her spark after so long, unfurl into the fully-faceted person she used to be, and realize she's so much more than just a wife and a mother, is immensely satisfying. This book's writing style drew me in from the first page. It's straightforward, funny, and witty, and I couldn't put it down. For a relatively short book, I was amazed that Emily Itami managed to wring so much out of it. Not only was the main story riveting, but it also contained many interesting observations about life, love, parenting, and relationships sprinkled throughout. I constantly caught myself nodding along and chuckling to the insightfulness of it all. The only part of the story that fell a bit short for me was the ending. Obviously, when a story is about infidelity, there are only so many ways it can go. But as I grew close to Mizuki, I wanted so much more for her. I don't know what ending would've satisfied me, but the one that was given just didn't quite meet my lofty hopes. Still, what a visceral and poignant story this was, deftly capturing the essence of our human need for connection and meaning. This is Itami's debut effort, and I cannot wait to read more from her. My heartfelt thanks for the copy that was provided for my honest and unbiased review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I can’t believe this is a debut novel. Well done, Emily Itami! There are authors whose vivid prose paints the setting and characters so beautifully that you’re immediately immersed in the story, taken away to another place, and this was one of those books for me. I have to confess though - it was actually the cover that first got me. How gorgeous is that? Luckily the inside was just as wonderful. Told from her POV, Mizuki has been married to salaryman, Tatsuya, for sixteen years and they and thei I can’t believe this is a debut novel. Well done, Emily Itami! There are authors whose vivid prose paints the setting and characters so beautifully that you’re immediately immersed in the story, taken away to another place, and this was one of those books for me. I have to confess though - it was actually the cover that first got me. How gorgeous is that? Luckily the inside was just as wonderful. Told from her POV, Mizuki has been married to salaryman, Tatsuya, for sixteen years and they and their two children, 10-year-old daughter Eri, and 4-year-old son Aki live in a very nice Tokyo apartment. As happens in marriage sometimes, and exacerbated by Tatsuya’s high stress, time intensive position and her frustrations as a wife and mother, they’ve grown more and more distant. When she encounters handsome stranger Kiyoshi one day … life gets a little more complicated. At its core, this is a story of a woman struggling as a wife and mother and trying to find comfort and emotional connection, or even just remember who she was in her pre-marriage life. For some it may seem that Mizuki’s behavior is somehow being justified or romanticized, but I really appreciated that her portrayal and that of her marriage, felt honest. She wasn’t always written in the most flattering light, but I always felt like she was “real”. You could understand her motivations whether you agreed with how she pursued them or not. Borrowing the title’s imagery - the story beautifully illustrates the fault lines that are hidden under the surface of any relationship - the things that can shake us and break us if we’re not prepared. While that may sound like a depressing premise, I assure you that this is not some emotionally overwrought melodrama - far from it. Mizuki is sarcastic and blunt. There’s so much humor and warmth in this story, and I appreciated that the slow-build relationship between her and Kiyoshi focused far more on their friendship than the expected stuff. It’s a wonderful story - start to finish. This will be in my 2021 favorites, and I’ll definitely be watching for anything Itami writes in the future. I can find no fault here! ★★★★★ ❤️ Many thanks to William Morrow and Custom House Publishing, Netgalley and author Emily Itami for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinions. It’s due for publication September 7, 2021.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    Picture your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical, middle-aged man pulling up to a stoplight in his red Corvette convertible with one hand on the wheel and one arm around his trophy mistress. Then picture Mizuki, the female main character in Fault Lines, pulling up beside him, revving her engine, and running him off the road when the light turns green. That’s the image I had in my mind while I was immersed in the world of Emily Itami’s beautifully written debut novel. Her “heroine,” Mizuki, is a Japan Picture your run-of-the-mill, stereotypical, middle-aged man pulling up to a stoplight in his red Corvette convertible with one hand on the wheel and one arm around his trophy mistress. Then picture Mizuki, the female main character in Fault Lines, pulling up beside him, revving her engine, and running him off the road when the light turns green. That’s the image I had in my mind while I was immersed in the world of Emily Itami’s beautifully written debut novel. Her “heroine,” Mizuki, is a Japanese woman whose dream of being a professional singer was abandoned so she could marry and raise children with a stoic-yet-hardworking husband. While not quite middle-aged, she meets her crisis in the form of an irresistible man named Kiyoshi. What follows is real, relatable and raw. Fault Lines is a slim little novel - a mere 224 pages. If you’re interested in mothers’ perspectives, Japanese culture, or just discovering a new literary talent, it’s well worth the short time investment to read this story. I opted to listen to the audiobook that clocks in at 5:23. The narration is solid, yet it’s a bit of a head-scratcher that it’s performed by an English white woman. Such a shame that a character who’s rediscovering her voice is voiced by one unlike her own. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Watashi wa hon ga daisuki desu! I love Japanese culture so this book was a win from the start. Perfection from the cherry blossoms on the beautiful cover, to the Tokyo setting, and everything in between, I loved it beyond just the plot. I’ll forgo the summary in lieu of expressing my appreciation for the exceptional tone and prose. Despite the solemn subjects of adultery and suicide, there was a lightness to the main character’s self critique. Infusing wit into the daily life of a Japanese wife an Watashi wa hon ga daisuki desu! I love Japanese culture so this book was a win from the start. Perfection from the cherry blossoms on the beautiful cover, to the Tokyo setting, and everything in between, I loved it beyond just the plot. I’ll forgo the summary in lieu of expressing my appreciation for the exceptional tone and prose. Despite the solemn subjects of adultery and suicide, there was a lightness to the main character’s self critique. Infusing wit into the daily life of a Japanese wife and mother, Mizuki was written with warmth and humor in contrast to the not so nice aspect of her adulterous affair. It’s an interesting juxtaposition as I felt empathy and even liked her. Did I mention that she was funny? Her character driven unique observations ignited more than a few snort fests in an otherwise somber conundrum. Descriptions of Tokyo, Mizuki’s fabulous French comrades, and fashion week were additional positives for me and heightened an already wonderful reading experience. As an aside, I had to smile at the mention of a weight loss diet of natto and grated yam because if anything could dim my appetite, it would be natto. I love Japanese food with this being an exception. Not a Western staple, it’s a bland looking tan paste of fermented soy beans. The sour taste defies its tame appearance and the slimy raw egg texture isn’t easily endured. In my one experience, and attempting not to offend my hosts, I forced myself to eat a portion (for breakfast no less) and then hid the remainder under some rice claiming I was full. Friends told me later that it’s an acquired taste and not everyone is a fan. Back to the review, this is the type of book I always hope to stumble on. I loved this and Emily Itami is now a ‘must read’ author so I hope for future offerings. Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and Custom House for my electronic review copy in advance of publication on September 28, 2021.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I can't remember the last time I highlighted so many passages in a novel. Emily Itami has a very bright future ahead of her. Mizuki is a Japanese housewife and mother of two children. Her husband is a hardworking man that works long hours but he's a good husband and father. She has everything she could ever ask for so why is she so unhappy? "Is it normal to fluctuate so quickly between feeling tender toward your husband and fervently wishing him a violent death?" After a decade of marriage s I can't remember the last time I highlighted so many passages in a novel. Emily Itami has a very bright future ahead of her. Mizuki is a Japanese housewife and mother of two children. Her husband is a hardworking man that works long hours but he's a good husband and father. She has everything she could ever ask for so why is she so unhappy? "Is it normal to fluctuate so quickly between feeling tender toward your husband and fervently wishing him a violent death?" After a decade of marriage she feels invisible. Her husband rarely looks at her anymore and their sex life is non-existent. She never imagined getting married and having children would be so lonely. She feels as if she gave up all her hopes and dreams to play a doting housewife and that is the last thing she ever wanted to become. "Some days I can't quite work out how I got here; I opted for the guy, I opted for the kids, I just didn't realize that meant waving goodbye to everything else." So when she has a random encounter with an attractive man she is instantly captivated by the attention he showers her. He really listens to her, they banter and laugh easily with one another and she finds that she is not only sexually attracted to this man but she has also become emotionally attached to him which makes her feelings even more complicated. Deep down she knows what she is doing is wrong but she is too weak to fight it. "I love being able to tell him exactly what I'm thinking. Not having to put it through the good-parenting filter I use for my children, or the perpetual war communication calculations I do with Tatsu, or the edited, rose-tinted truth I feed my mother." I have a feeling many women are going to be able to relate to Mizuki as I know I certainly did. There have been days that I resent my husband, that my kid drives me out of my mind, and it takes every bit of my patience just to hold it together and not scream at the top of my lungs. If you've ever had days like that then this is one to pick up. Mizuki is also incredibly witty and funny which helps alleviate any sense of gloom a book about infidelity could inevitably have. I found the ending fitting and satisfying. All in all this is a wonderful debut that shouldn't be missed. 4.5 stars! Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House for my copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Woodward

    "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation."-Henry David Thoreau Mizuki is a wife, a mother, and a former singer, now leading a quiet life in Tokyo, playing the role she's supposed to play. She moves soundlessly from one day to the next in the monotonous Groundhog Day that is parenthood. Her children are wonderful, her husband's career affords them a stunning apartment with a balcony, and she wants for nothing. ... Except absolutely everything. Mizuki alternates between reminiscing abo "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation."-Henry David Thoreau Mizuki is a wife, a mother, and a former singer, now leading a quiet life in Tokyo, playing the role she's supposed to play. She moves soundlessly from one day to the next in the monotonous Groundhog Day that is parenthood. Her children are wonderful, her husband's career affords them a stunning apartment with a balcony, and she wants for nothing. ... Except absolutely everything. Mizuki alternates between reminiscing about her past marital joys and thanking her lucky stars each time she has a quiet night with no forced romance between her and husband, waiting for the moment when the minutiae of parenthood becomes second nature...and enjoyable at that. Life takes her by surprise however, when it thrusts the enigmatic and kind Kiyoshi in her path, an entrepreneurial restaurateur who REALLY sees her, exactly for the whole person she is...not just the pieces society values most. Long conversations with Kiyoshi envelop Mizuki in the warm glow she's been searching for, and tiny pieces of her soul come back to her, full force, reminding her of long nights singing in clubs to adoring fans and all that she has given up for the 'perfect' life she has now. Her relationship with Kiyoshi deepens, and as their relationship wanders into different territory, Mizuki begins to question everything she thought always kept her grounded and the choices that have left her in this predicament. Is her future set in stone...or have these cracks appeared for a reason? Has the old Mizuki been given a second chance to shine...and will she take it? Itami is an thoughtful, lyrical, and witty writer, the type who can take even the most basic situation and layer it with nuance and get your mind spinning. It's hard to believe this is a debut, but WOW. What a writer! As a new mom and wife, it was easy to connect with the pangs of longing Mizuki felt throughout the novel as she contemplated all she had but all she'd had to give up to get there. The chapters are short, but impactful, and gave me a feeling that reminded me of the young 'revolutionary' Wheelers in Yates' Revolutionary Road, another novel that struck a chord with me and explored the sort of quiet desperation that comes with imagining a different life. This is a book of sharp thoughts with soft edges: Mizuki is a beautifully explored, defined, and refined woman who goes through an incredible metamorphosis of sorts from page one until the novel's unexpected ending, and it's up to you to decide whether the life she chooses suits her best. I savored every word and just didn't want it to end. A gorgeous work of literary fiction and EASILY one of my favorites of 2021! 4.5 ⭐ Special thanks to my GR friends Kat, Michelle, Christina, and Regina for inspiring me to read this book!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Mizuki is a housewife in Tokyo, in the kind of marriage where she barely sees her constantly working husband and when she does, their conversations are either completely routine and surface level, or seething with resentment, at least on her end. Tatsu, her husband, doesn’t seem as if he even cares enough to be upset at this state of their stale marriage, which only leads to more resentment for Mizuki. She knows she should be satisfied. She has a beautiful home and family that most people dream Mizuki is a housewife in Tokyo, in the kind of marriage where she barely sees her constantly working husband and when she does, their conversations are either completely routine and surface level, or seething with resentment, at least on her end. Tatsu, her husband, doesn’t seem as if he even cares enough to be upset at this state of their stale marriage, which only leads to more resentment for Mizuki. She knows she should be satisfied. She has a beautiful home and family that most people dream of, and her husband, while distant, is a good man. But when she meets someone who makes her feel truly seen, who is the kind of person who actually sits and contemplates the answers to questions before just spouting off, as if he really cares and truly wants to know her and her to know him, she is conflicted. How long can she pretend that this will never go further than friendship, and that she isn't playing a very dangerous game spending time with him. And what will this mean for her marriage. Will the fault lines finally crack enough to bring everything crashing down? This is a beautiful character study and one that isn’t afraid to present a flawed person making some bad, but very realistic decisions. It isn’t black and white, the husband isn’t some terrible monster to make adultery more palatable, and I really appreciated that. This is just a story, about people who feel real, with motivations that feel genuine. There really is no “plot”, rather this is just a glimpse into a short period of time where a woman contemplates her life, her marriage, and her role as a mother. I don’t think this is going to be for everyone, particularly not those who need something to *happen* in a story, nor for those who will feel frustrated at first-world problems and an upper middle class housewife’s ennui. For me though, this rang so very true and so many of Mizuki’s thoughts and regrets really resonated with me. And her biting wit had me smiling to myself as I read. This may be the most highlighted book currently on my kindle; there were so many gems. Mizuki has a side gig where she teaches Japanese, both the language and the culture, to expats. This whole book felt a bit like I was being given an insider’s glimpse into a culture so foreign to my own via her story, and Itami does a wonderful job blending these types of details into her story in an accessible and seamless way for Western readers. There were also some laugh out loud moments including a brash American’s faux pas at a dinner party while the guests try not to make their horror apparent. I’d be very curious to hear how those living in Japan and specifically Tokyo feel about these portions of the book. This is a wonderful debut, and the blurb gets it perfectly right here. If you’ve ever wondered how exactly you ended up where you did in life, or realized your teenage self would never have imagined this for you, I think this book will really hit home. Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow and Custom House for an advanced copy of this title for review. It was my pleasure.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    I can't believe I accidentally deleted my review on GR!!! Good thing I had already posted it on my blog, but I have to re-insert the GIFS and Images again. Sorry to all of my GR friends who posted comments and likes, but I was trying to clear up my duplicate postings on GR. ( I wish GR would allow us just to MERGE the two listings.) This time, given this fresh opportunity, I will do a few things a little differently.... RECAP of my deleted review: I enjoyed this rambling confession of a disenchanted I can't believe I accidentally deleted my review on GR!!! Good thing I had already posted it on my blog, but I have to re-insert the GIFS and Images again. Sorry to all of my GR friends who posted comments and likes, but I was trying to clear up my duplicate postings on GR. ( I wish GR would allow us just to MERGE the two listings.) This time, given this fresh opportunity, I will do a few things a little differently.... RECAP of my deleted review: I enjoyed this rambling confession of a disenchanted Japanese housewife who embarks on a love affair with a man who was (probably) the true love of her life. The author, Emily Itami, was raised in Japan, but currently lives in New York. The story is written in English (à la "Queen Elizabeth, pass the teapot please" English) and is rife with British slang. There has been some speculation on GR regarding these British overtones. I think it is obvious: much depends on who taught Emily Itami to speak English in the first place: one of her British parents? a British ex-pat tutor? or a North American ex-pat tutor? At any rate, the narrator of this audiobook, Lydia Wilson, has a British accent, so I don't understand the accusations of discordance from some GR reviewers. Wilson did a decent job but the first third of the audiobook was difficult to understand for me because the narrator often mumbled or slurred her words when the character, Mizuki, was saying something sarcastic or droll - which was often! Mizuki was given the opportunity to be an exchange student in New York when she was sixteen. This experience changed her and she was never again the "perfect, well-mannered Japanese girl." America had ruined her according to Mizuki's ultra-traditional mother. After flunking out of school, Mizuki eventually returned to the U.S. and had a modestly successful singing career, but she began to miss her family and her culture, so she returned to Japan, and eventually married, became a conventional Japanese housewife and had two children. The initial passionate flame in her "carefully chosen" marriage is extinguished by the passage of time and the rigours of the Japanese work ethic. Mizuki is resentful and justifies her affair with the intoxicating Kiyoshi as revenge for her husband's own extra-marital affairs, disdain and neglect. Lurking in the background is the ever-present threat of an earthquake, and when this "silent character" inevitably makes its appearance in this story, the consequences are devastating, life changing - and, surprisingly, life affirming. Many GR reviewers disliked the ending, but I thought it was bittersweet and realistic. Mizuki loved her unruly and very "un-Japanese" children. They needed her and she was certainly not going to abandon them to an emotionally stifled life by choosing to run off with Kiyoshi to New York. I love that Mizuki's daughter will have a chance to spread her wings in Paris - just as Mizuki's father had done for her. Ironically, Mizuki believes that she is a social failure because she does not behave like a proper Japanese wife and mother. But I had to give Mizuki many bonus points as I listened to this audiobook. I didn't fault her for having an affair during that arid time in her life when everyone seemed to be dumping on her. We all need to feel appreciated and needed. I was very proud of her during that subway ride: despite her own terror, she pulled a "SuperMom" - she was there for her family and her children when they needed her most. I'm rating this "true confession" short novel a 4 out of 5 stars - a great debut effort!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I fell in love with this book from the very first page. I first gave it the eye, like a potential suitor, when I noticed its gorgeous cover, but what’s inside is even better than the cover promises. It’s stunning to me that a writer as bold and beautiful as Emily Itami is, here with Fault Lines, only on her very first novel. The potential! This is the best book I’ve read in many months, the kind you really want to savor, because the narrator’s voice is such beauty and perfection. And by perfecti I fell in love with this book from the very first page. I first gave it the eye, like a potential suitor, when I noticed its gorgeous cover, but what’s inside is even better than the cover promises. It’s stunning to me that a writer as bold and beautiful as Emily Itami is, here with Fault Lines, only on her very first novel. The potential! This is the best book I’ve read in many months, the kind you really want to savor, because the narrator’s voice is such beauty and perfection. And by perfection here I mean imperfection. Mizuki, our protagonist, is a former singer stuck in a boring marriage to a Japanese salaryman, with the daily job of raising her children (or, as she puts it hilariously, “being in a state of indentured servitude to two small psychopaths.”) She looks out the window at the high rises around her, yearning for more. One day she finds it in a man who is not her husband. I absolutely loved being inside Mizuki’s head and following her through her daily life in Tokyo. Her biting wit, boldness, and sense of humor immediately smash any stereotypes the reader might have about a Japanese housewife. I adored following Mizuki as she searched for something outside her boring day job as a wife and mom, spent with (to paraphrase), her husband — aka her one and only co-worker she must work for and with for life. Did she choose well? What might handsome stranger Kiyoshi have to offer her outside this world? She loves the way he was “the first person in years who thought about the answers to the questions I asked him and looked right at me when he replied.” Because in her marriage, she already has a protagonist in her life…and it’s not her, but her husband. (So many little sparkling gems of quotes scattered throughout this book!) If you haven’t guessed, this book is quirky and irreverent with what might at first seem to be somewhat of a dim view of commitment, but it’s really much more layered and interesting than that. To me, this is the best kind of book that takes you to a world totally different from your own and provides a totally immersive experience. I saw another review or two that said they found the character of Mizuki unlikeable. Me? I loved her, her sense of humor, and her keen observations from the start. In conclusion, READ!! this book. It’s so lovely, biting, quirky, and deep. I hope Emily Itami has more for me so devour soon. She’s a wonderful and exciting new talent. So many thanks to William Morris and Custom House, NetGalley, and the author for this treat of an ARC. It has been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a book, and I think it will be one I reread with some frequency.

  10. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4 fantastic debut novel stars I loved this one, set primarily in Japan. I don’t often read books with Japanese characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It is well written, and the author has created a relatable flawed character that I enjoyed getting to know. Reading about all the food made me crave Japanese food and the different parts of Tokyo came alive in this book. We meet Mizuki and learn about her life as a mother and wife, and I especially enjoyed reading about her time spent in the 4 fantastic debut novel stars I loved this one, set primarily in Japan. I don’t often read books with Japanese characters, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It is well written, and the author has created a relatable flawed character that I enjoyed getting to know. Reading about all the food made me crave Japanese food and the different parts of Tokyo came alive in this book. We meet Mizuki and learn about her life as a mother and wife, and I especially enjoyed reading about her time spent in the U.S. and how that affected her. It really felt like we got an insider’s view into the Japanese psyche. They have some cultural differences compared to the US but many similarities too. Women around the world wonder if they are enough for their husbands and children. Wonder why their husbands stop seeing them. I also found it fascinating that Mizuki had a job helping Westerners understand Japanese culture – for example, why when you get on an elevator you shouldn’t go to the far back – and what Japanese really mean when they say things. I think if I had to spend time in that country, I would need someone like this helping me! I was pondering this title and to me it feels like it represents the fault lines in our life and how things can change along those points. For this character, it was her time in the US and then deciding to return to Japan, thinking about a new relationship, her singing career, all of those things can change the course of her life. It also can reference fault lines in one relationship, like the one with her husband. This was an amazing debut and I can’t wait to read more from this author. Thank you to Book Club Girl Early Read and William Morrow/Custom House for the early copy of this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I appreciated this how Emily Itami showed the protagonist’s unhappy feelings about domesticity, married life, and having kids. While the narrator loves her children and cares for them well, she also expresses disappointments about the constraints of her life, which I liked given how women are taught to idolize motherhood and often feel pressured into motherhood. Itami does a great job of describing the protagonist’s bicultural upbringing too and how it affects her perspective on life. At the same I appreciated this how Emily Itami showed the protagonist’s unhappy feelings about domesticity, married life, and having kids. While the narrator loves her children and cares for them well, she also expresses disappointments about the constraints of her life, which I liked given how women are taught to idolize motherhood and often feel pressured into motherhood. Itami does a great job of describing the protagonist’s bicultural upbringing too and how it affects her perspective on life. At the same time I feel like Fault Lines did not really go anywhere. It made a strong statement about the potential pitfalls of domesticity for sure. And, it suffered from a lackluster ending in my opinion – a major event happens and then suddenly everything shifts and falls into place for the protagonist. I wanted Itami to show us deeper conversations, to reveal how the characters struggled before reaching their final destination. Additionally, while I liked the writing in this novel, it didn’t wow me. A novel/short story collection that addressed similar themes in a more dynamic way is So We Look to the Sky by Misumi Kubo, which I read earlier this year and greatly enjoyed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    luce

    | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | 3 ½ stars “Is it normal to fluctuate so quickly between feeling tender towards your husband and fervently wishing him a violent death?” Fault Lines by Emily Itami is a fun and short read. Itami's dry humor brought to mind Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times, but, thankfully for me at least, Fault Lines proved to be a much more engaging story. Our narrator is Mizuki a Japanese housewife who is becoming increasingly tired by the monotony of her daily life. Her husband is a | | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | | 3 ½ stars “Is it normal to fluctuate so quickly between feeling tender towards your husband and fervently wishing him a violent death?” Fault Lines by Emily Itami is a fun and short read. Itami's dry humor brought to mind Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times, but, thankfully for me at least, Fault Lines proved to be a much more engaging story. Our narrator is Mizuki a Japanese housewife who is becoming increasingly tired by the monotony of her daily life. Her husband is a workaholic who pays her little to notice, and her looking after her children is no easy feat. Similarly to Yūko Tsushima's Territory of Light, Fault Lines examines the pressure Japanese society puts on women to be perfect wives and mothers. Mizuki often feels inadequate, especially when comparing herself to other housewives. Yet, she doesn't really want her life to be wholly devoted to her husband and children. She blames some of her attitude on her time in America, where she went first as a student and then to pursue a career as a singer. The more overlooked she feels by her husband the more Mizuki longs for the freedom she enjoyed prior to her marriage. On a night out with her friends, quite by chance, she meets Kiyoshi. Mizuki feels once again seen and worthy of attention. Kiyoshi and her begin to spend more and more time together, and as they get to know each other their attraction grows. Mizuki is a very witty narrator and the novel's biggest strength. Her voice is amusing and her deadpan humor and asides make her story all the more compelling. I did find her at times to be incongruously Britsh. She uses terms like 'knob', 'wanker', and 'fag' (as opposed to cigarette), and it seemed a bit of an odd choice (I understand that the novel is written in English but it still broke the story's spell). I really liked the novel's sense of place and Mizuki's insights into Tokyo and Japanese society. The 'will they/won't they' affair turned out to be a bit disappointing. There is quite a build-up to Kiyoshi and Mizuki's relationship with him, but when we do eventually meet him...I don't know. He never really grabbed me and I wish his character had been a bit more fleshed out. He functions as a bit of a plot device, someone that makes Mizuki re-assess her married life. The children were incredibly annoying so much so that they dampened my enjoyment of the story. Overall, Fault Lines proved to be a surprisingly funny and refreshing read and I look forward to whatever Itami will write next. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I feel like Itami hit the sweet spot here between sharp, witty chick-lit, and the occasional surfacing of something darker and more real from underneath. It peers outward from this deeper place few too times for me, personally, but her craft is exquisite. She does a lot with a little here, and I’m a fan of this. But something didn’t compel me to gobble up all 215 pages in this novella, and I was more engrossed in other reads. Yet, I did keep on with Fault Lines, and this never felt like a chore. I feel like Itami hit the sweet spot here between sharp, witty chick-lit, and the occasional surfacing of something darker and more real from underneath. It peers outward from this deeper place few too times for me, personally, but her craft is exquisite. She does a lot with a little here, and I’m a fan of this. But something didn’t compel me to gobble up all 215 pages in this novella, and I was more engrossed in other reads. Yet, I did keep on with Fault Lines, and this never felt like a chore. When I was in a particular mood, this hit the spot. If you’re someone who generally gravitates towards this kind of read, you’re in for a treat.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Haak

    I really liked this novel about marriage, love and Japanese culture set in Tokyo, Japan. Author Itami grew up in Tokyo and now lives in London. That probably made her think up a character that is not your standard Japanese woman you get across in many Japanese novels. Mizuki is an interesting character. As an adolescent she spent a year in New York going to high school and later returned there to work as a singer, before moving back to Japan again, getting married and becoming a mother of two, t I really liked this novel about marriage, love and Japanese culture set in Tokyo, Japan. Author Itami grew up in Tokyo and now lives in London. That probably made her think up a character that is not your standard Japanese woman you get across in many Japanese novels. Mizuki is an interesting character. As an adolescent she spent a year in New York going to high school and later returned there to work as a singer, before moving back to Japan again, getting married and becoming a mother of two, turning her into a more westernized Japanese woman. She knows how to behave as a Japanese woman is supposed to behave, but at the same time she can be someone with an opinion of her own and not being afraid to express it, and someone who likes to enjoy herself and show it. She realizes she has a good life, but at the same time she feels unseen, unloved and stuck in what's expected of her. When she meets Kiyoshi she rediscovers freedom and friendship and she can be a freer version of herself. I liked the east-west theme here, the cultural differences. And I learned so much about Japanese culture, habits, food, etc! It makes me want to visit Japan even more. Thank you Orion and Netgalley for the ARC.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    There are lots of very good novels about motherhood coming out these days, and this is one to add in the list, notable since it focuses specifically on Japanese ideals of motherhood. This is also an affair novel, the events begin just as Mizuki encounters Kiyoshi. Mizuki is, we learn, not particularly fulfilled in her role as a mother and housewife. She doesn't feel like she measures up to the standards she's supposed to meet, and her husband has been distant for several years. Learning who Mizu There are lots of very good novels about motherhood coming out these days, and this is one to add in the list, notable since it focuses specifically on Japanese ideals of motherhood. This is also an affair novel, the events begin just as Mizuki encounters Kiyoshi. Mizuki is, we learn, not particularly fulfilled in her role as a mother and housewife. She doesn't feel like she measures up to the standards she's supposed to meet, and her husband has been distant for several years. Learning who Mizuki really is underneath all of the people she is forced to be is the best part of this book, getting her history and her personality, how she goes against traditional Japanese ideals, the kind of person she wants to be. Some of this we see with Kiyoshi, but not as much as you'd expect. The writing about parenthood and children is very good. The children always feel real and Mizuki's combination of affection and frustration is familiar. This is slim but I was quite quickly immersed. I did feel like it ended with everything resolving a little too easily, though. This is written for Western readers, explaining to us what a Japanese mother is supposed to be. Mizuki is held to a standard even higher than many American readers will be used to, and Itami guides us through it deftly. I listened on audio and while I enjoyed it, I was a little surprised that the reader appears to be a white British woman. I really would have appreciated a reader of Japanese descent, even better one with a Japanese accent, since that's fitting with not just the character's race and ethnicity, but the setting of the novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    Mizuki is a traditional Japanese housewife. She lives a comfortable life in Tokyo with her husband and their two young children. Her life is centered around serving the needs of her family. The older she gets, the further away she is from her once free-spirited and rebellious life. Before getting married, she lived in New York City and became a singer in local clubs. Once she realized her singing career had no great future, she married Tatsuya. After a good start in their marriage, Tatsuya is no Mizuki is a traditional Japanese housewife. She lives a comfortable life in Tokyo with her husband and their two young children. Her life is centered around serving the needs of her family. The older she gets, the further away she is from her once free-spirited and rebellious life. Before getting married, she lived in New York City and became a singer in local clubs. Once she realized her singing career had no great future, she married Tatsuya. After a good start in their marriage, Tatsuya is now consumed with his job and has little time for Mizuki. A chance encounter with Kiyoshi, a successful restauranteur who she develops a friendship with, brings back her lost exuberance towards life. Kiyoshi is romantically interested in Mizuki and she cannot deny her excitement each time she sees him. It’s a real dilemma that most Japanese housewives would never contemplate. Fault Lines is primarily a stream of consciousness from Mizuki as she tries to cope with her life, which is not giving her the satisfaction she craves. The reader can feel her struggles. It is an interesting look into the Japanese culture and what society expects of its women. The writing is lovely and author Emily Itami often brings a sense of humor to Mizuki’s day-to-day, tiresome existence. It will surprise readers that this is the author’s debut. Many thanks to William Morrow / Custom House, HarperCollins, the Book Club Girls and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in advance of its September 7, 2021 release. While the culture may be different, the feelings of questioning the life you chose is universal. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    3.5 stars While this book didn't always work for me plot-wise, there were some things I really liked about it. I especially enjoyed learning a bit about Japanese culture. There's such an incongruous juxtaposition of ancient Japanese customs and the ultra-modern reality of Tokyo. For example, when you step into an elevator, you're supposed to let the "most important" person stand at the back of the elevator. This is so that if a samurai comes to attack, the most important person will be protected 3.5 stars While this book didn't always work for me plot-wise, there were some things I really liked about it. I especially enjoyed learning a bit about Japanese culture. There's such an incongruous juxtaposition of ancient Japanese customs and the ultra-modern reality of Tokyo. For example, when you step into an elevator, you're supposed to let the "most important" person stand at the back of the elevator. This is so that if a samurai comes to attack, the most important person will be protected by all the less important people standing in front of him. Elevator samurais! Who knew? When you read about what is expected of Japanese people in public places, it goes a long way toward understanding why they tend to be so much better behaved and compliant than rowdy, ill-mannered Americans. Imagine a public park where almost all forms of entertainment are banned. No ball games, no musical instruments, no wheeled objects, no booze. And there are white-gloved guards at the entrance to enforce the rules. I really liked the parts where Mizuki was describing her poor upbringing in a place Tokyoites think of as sort of a Japanese version of redneck. She slept on the floor all her life until she went to America as an exchange student. I also enjoyed the time she spent with Kiyoshi, enjoying all the sights and tastes and sounds Tokyo has to offer. What I didn't care for much were the domestic portions of the novel, which was a bit problematic because that's sort of the whole point of the plot. I just didn't enjoy reading about the time Mizuki spent at home with her husband Tatsu, who is present physically but absent mentally and emotionally. And the time she spent with her kids was, sorry to say, not all that interesting to me either. But this is not surprising, as I have a tendency to be bored by a lot of domestic fiction. I thought the resolution came about a little too easily, like maybe there was a hurry to finish up the story. Still, there is some impressively perceptive writing about relationships and some beautiful (and painful) insights about life in general. There was one passage in particular that made me cry, because it expressed exactly how I have felt since my mom died. Kiyoshi is telling Mizuki what it was like for him when his mother died: "Sometimes it felt like the part of me that my mother knew disappeared when she did. Because there wasn't anyone else who saw it, it just faded away." It's hard to remember who you are without people who know you that way. If you can get your brain to adjust to the fact that the author can't decide on a verb tense and stick with it, I think this is well worth a read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Imogen Kathleen

    If this is Emily Itami's debut, I am beyond excited to see what else she publishes in the future. Wow. A brutally honest love letter to motherhood and womanhood, Fault Lines is unlike anything I've ever read before. I may end up increasing the rating to 5 stars, but I'm just going to be sitting with it for now. Atmospheric writing, complex characters, and clever humour, Fault Lines was one of my favourite 2021 reads for sure. I urge you to pick this up. EDIT 04.07.21: I upped it to five stars. I c If this is Emily Itami's debut, I am beyond excited to see what else she publishes in the future. Wow. A brutally honest love letter to motherhood and womanhood, Fault Lines is unlike anything I've ever read before. I may end up increasing the rating to 5 stars, but I'm just going to be sitting with it for now. Atmospheric writing, complex characters, and clever humour, Fault Lines was one of my favourite 2021 reads for sure. I urge you to pick this up. EDIT 04.07.21: I upped it to five stars. I cannot stop thinking about this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Leone-campbell

    Fault Lines is a beautiful, poetically written, heartbreaking story about a Japanese woman who seems to have it all, but is slowly dying inside. She mourns the loss of her past, her freedom and the death of her father which she feels responsible for. As her world begins to break apart, like the fault lines which cause earthquakes, she must make a decision which she will have to live with for the rest of her life. Mizuki is a housewife, who works part-time as translator for Americans who are livin Fault Lines is a beautiful, poetically written, heartbreaking story about a Japanese woman who seems to have it all, but is slowly dying inside. She mourns the loss of her past, her freedom and the death of her father which she feels responsible for. As her world begins to break apart, like the fault lines which cause earthquakes, she must make a decision which she will have to live with for the rest of her life. Mizuki is a housewife, who works part-time as translator for Americans who are living in Japan. She has a hard working husband who is never home and two children who believe she is their servant. Her life consists of cooking, cleaning, picking up and dropping off at schools, and tending to everyone’s needs except her own. This is a far cry from the young girl who spent a year in New York City in a student study abroad program, who had the world ahead of her and wanted to become a famous singer. Just as her life begins to spin slowly out of control with a husband who spends no time with her and the demands of two children who can’t seem to do anything for themselves, she meets a man named Kiyoshi who owns many restaurants. They begin an affair. In him she finds the attention and conversation which is lacking in her relationship with her husband and the praise and appreciation she never feels when tending her children. She begins to see a life she thought she could never have. Kiyoshi seems to be her true soul-mate. But with most affairs of the heart, there comes a time when a decision must be made. Feelings need to be reevaluated. Who is most important? Her love for Kiyoshi, or the choices she has already made in her life with her husband and her children? And then suddenly Mizuki is jolted back into the reality of her life with her family. Along the way she gains perspective into her life, both past and present. Sometimes decisions must be based not just on ourselves, but on the needs of those we love. But love never dies and those we are devoted to never truly leave our hearts or our souls. Thank you #Goodreads #CustomHouse #EmilyItami #FaultLines for the advanced copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Smith Writes

    This novel was an absolute winner for me. Intelligently witty with darkly insightful introspection, Fault Lines is the sort of contemporary literary fiction I long for but hardly ever have the pleasure of finding. Stories about affairs are not ones that I usually gravitate to, but I am drawn to Japanese novels and the author of Fault Lines, Emily Itami, grew up in Tokyo, so that prompted me to request this one for review. So glad I did! ‘He’s made me invisible. With all the options I had, I chose This novel was an absolute winner for me. Intelligently witty with darkly insightful introspection, Fault Lines is the sort of contemporary literary fiction I long for but hardly ever have the pleasure of finding. Stories about affairs are not ones that I usually gravitate to, but I am drawn to Japanese novels and the author of Fault Lines, Emily Itami, grew up in Tokyo, so that prompted me to request this one for review. So glad I did! ‘He’s made me invisible. With all the options I had, I chose him, chose him for life, for living, and he’s frozen me out into an existence that isn’t living at all. I’m in a cage without bars and I’m screaming but nobody can hear. I’m not even middle-aged yet and he’s faded me into the background.’ The writing is pitch perfect and I absolutely loved Mizuki. She comes down hard on herself as a mother but there are scenes throughout this novel that demonstrate just what a terrific mother she actually is, in the moments and instances that matter. Whilst this novel is uniquely Japanese both thematically and within its setting, there was a universal female connection that could be made with Mizuki’s feelings and experiences about marriage and motherhood. In this, Emily Itami has firmly embedded herself into my consciousness as an author of merit. I loved the fact that this novel was about a Japanese woman, set in Japan, living a Japanese lifestyle, and yet, I could totally relate to her despite our cultural variance. ‘Parenting is savage – there is no other activity on earth that you could get up to do four times a night for two years straight, and at the end of it be merely in the running for mediocre.’ Despite its overall short length as a novel, I feel like I travelled such a journey with Mizuki, getting to know her inside out. Her backstory and how this influenced the person she had become was woven into the narrative with seamless perfection. I particularly liked the musings about her years in America and Tokyo as a single woman and how this may have influenced her own cultural connections to the Japanese expectations of marriage and motherhood. ‘Japanese motherhood and its attendant housewifery is a cult, and its initiates take very poorly to anyone who thinks they can enter without going the whole hog. So even though I am a full-time mother with a cupboard full of obento-making accessories, small details indicate cracks in my dedication for which true devotees would like to see me burnt at the stake.’ This novel is funny, whimsical, deeply introspective, intelligent, and achingly beautiful. I really loved it and look forward to Emily Itami’s next novel. ‘He was basically a Care Bear trapped in the body of an underwear model.’ Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Humaira ♡

    PRE READ THOUGHTS - 08/08/21 The cover is stunning!!! And love the synopsis for the book 😍 I'm so intrigued by it and cannot wait to see what happens in this. So hopefully it doesn't disappoint 🤞🏻 PRE READ THOUGHTS - 08/08/21 The cover is stunning!!! And love the synopsis for the book 😍 I'm so intrigued by it and cannot wait to see what happens in this. So hopefully it doesn't disappoint 🤞🏻

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Barten

    Even though this book was only 224 pages, it was still too long. It was very wordy with whole chapters where nothing happens. One chapter literally just talks about the love you have for children after having them. I don't care. I also disliked the main character. She was catty towards her husband and treated him him badly just because she was bored. The only redeeming quality about this book was that I enjoyed learning about the culture. Thank you to netgalley for letting me read an advanced co Even though this book was only 224 pages, it was still too long. It was very wordy with whole chapters where nothing happens. One chapter literally just talks about the love you have for children after having them. I don't care. I also disliked the main character. She was catty towards her husband and treated him him badly just because she was bored. The only redeeming quality about this book was that I enjoyed learning about the culture. Thank you to netgalley for letting me read an advanced copy of this book for my honest opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This was such an immersive reading experience!

  24. 4 out of 5

    fatma

    i absolutely hate reading about failing marriages and affairs and motherhood, but something about this novel just worked for me. mizuki's narrative voice plus the tokyo setting really brought this together. i absolutely hate reading about failing marriages and affairs and motherhood, but something about this novel just worked for me. mizuki's narrative voice plus the tokyo setting really brought this together.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    This book was beautiful and meaningful. Sure there are other books written about the excitement of stepping away from your marriage and family. This one paints the picture with a small brush plied with details that clearly show the inner conflict. The author only had to focus on Mizuki to allow the reader to engage. It did not matter one bit if the other characters were fairly stereotypical. Mizuki was the heart of the story and each word was carefully layered. I have a complaint that kept me fr This book was beautiful and meaningful. Sure there are other books written about the excitement of stepping away from your marriage and family. This one paints the picture with a small brush plied with details that clearly show the inner conflict. The author only had to focus on Mizuki to allow the reader to engage. It did not matter one bit if the other characters were fairly stereotypical. Mizuki was the heart of the story and each word was carefully layered. I have a complaint that kept me from rating this book a 5. There is a momentous event (won’t spoil) near the end that was NOT necessary. The story would have been more powerful by ending gently.

  26. 5 out of 5

    jasmine

    Fault Lines is a raw depiction of modern motherhood and wifehood. Set in modern Tokyo, Mizuki is a Japanese housewife with a hardworking husband and two adorable children. After years of marriage, she felt drained with domestic and monotonous life. One day, she met Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. They slowly moved from friends to secret lovers. In him, Mizuki found a sense of freedom and youthful exuberance. He ignites her free-spirited soul and reminds her of her days as a singer in New York Fault Lines is a raw depiction of modern motherhood and wifehood. Set in modern Tokyo, Mizuki is a Japanese housewife with a hardworking husband and two adorable children. After years of marriage, she felt drained with domestic and monotonous life. One day, she met Kiyoshi, a successful restaurateur. They slowly moved from friends to secret lovers. In him, Mizuki found a sense of freedom and youthful exuberance. He ignites her free-spirited soul and reminds her of her days as a singer in New York City. This book explores marriage with insightful introspection into modern society. As cross-cultural relationships are getting more common, is a marriage able to withstand the cultural clashes and personal sacrifices? At the crossroad of love and happiness, which would we choose? While Mizuki is in high spirits with Kiyoshi, her love towards her children remains unwavered. However, love comes with the cost of happiness. In the book, Tokyo city also has its narrative and it filled up (almost) a quarter of the book. The description of each street, different times of the day and different seasons of the year definitely enhanced the uniqueness of Japanese culture. Even though the story is set in Japan, the book felt 'British' at its core. I think partly it's because the author is currently living in the UK. It's surprisingly funny and deeply introspective. I saw some readers compared it to Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times. so, yeah. I would say it took me some time to get into the style and narration. However, once I get past the fault line, I'm fully immersed in it. Rating: 4.5 stars

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    FYI: My review of Emily Itami's Fault Lines is of the ARC, not the finished hardcover edition. I don't think that will matter too much as I enjoyed the novel and any small changes or corrections made in the finished book won't impact my review. This is a good novel of a woman's struggle to be happy with the life she's chosen as a mother and wife. Mizuki is a Japanese housewife who loves her two small children and used to love her husband. Now she is infuriated by the loss of intimacy between them FYI: My review of Emily Itami's Fault Lines is of the ARC, not the finished hardcover edition. I don't think that will matter too much as I enjoyed the novel and any small changes or corrections made in the finished book won't impact my review. This is a good novel of a woman's struggle to be happy with the life she's chosen as a mother and wife. Mizuki is a Japanese housewife who loves her two small children and used to love her husband. Now she is infuriated by the loss of intimacy between them and how he ignores her and devalues her contributions to the family. Out with friends one night, she runs into Kiyoshi, a man she gradually falls in love with. Mizuki must decide what love and happiness mean to her and if it's possible to have them both. This is a lovely novel told by a woman who is angry and bitter and hurt and can't understand the decline of her marriage. She misses her husband but is so angered by his coldness that she responds by yelling, which helps even less. Mizuki, despite her anger and hurt (or because of it) is quite funny. You learn about her past and how she met Tatsuya and why she is different from other Japanese housewives (bad, bad American influence). When she meets Kiyoshi, she is happy and feels a connection with him immediately. He recognizes her for who she is and she doesn't feel the need to do the usual coy and polite Japanese woman act, which isn't her strongest skill anyway. Despite having been raised in the country, Mizuki loves Tokyo and much of this book is a love letter to the city with its detailed descriptions of the food and smells and colors and lights. For those readers not familiar with Japanese culture or words, there will be a certain amount of Googling involved but that's okay. She has a part-time job assisting American business people with navigating Japanese culture and I liked learning along with her clients. At one point in the novel she's at a fancy business dinner with Japanese friends and an American businessman. He pours soy sauce all over his rice, which horrifies his dinner companions and then, at the end the meal, stabs his chopsticks into his leftover rice, apparently a cultural faux pas of massive proportions. His Japanese dinner companions are disgusted but are polite and say nothing. I found this very funny in particular because I am in Hawaii right now staying with a couple at their home. He is native Hawaiian, she is Japanese. When we were out one day (sans wife), my husband poured hot sauce and ketchup all over his mound of rice. Aaron was horrified (and amused) but begged my husband to please, never ever do that in front of Yukashi. She would, he said, have a fit. He briefly explained that rice has a lot of significance in Japanese culture and there's a wrong way to eat it and a right way. Apparently, hot sauce (and ketchup) is one of the wrong ways. I enjoyed Fault Lines because it's a gentle love story without all the drama and histrionics. Mizuki loves Kiyoshi, but she loves her children. She's a very relatable person and her love for her children is really the main story; the romance is a side story. In the end, she makes the choice she has to make because it was never really any choice at all. Highly recommend this, particularly if you like novels with a foreign setting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    One of my favorite things to do when I spend any amount of time on GoodReads is to explore what my fellow readers have to say about a book I've just finished. In doing this very thing earlier this year, I stumbled across the incredibly prolific Regina, who happens to be one of the best reviewers on this whole site! I absolutely loved what she had to say about "Fault Lines," and I agree with every word of her clever, 4-star review. To any of my friends who seek out my book reviews to inform their One of my favorite things to do when I spend any amount of time on GoodReads is to explore what my fellow readers have to say about a book I've just finished. In doing this very thing earlier this year, I stumbled across the incredibly prolific Regina, who happens to be one of the best reviewers on this whole site! I absolutely loved what she had to say about "Fault Lines," and I agree with every word of her clever, 4-star review. To any of my friends who seek out my book reviews to inform their own reading habits, I encourage you to give Regina a follow. She's been my favorite discovery on GoodReads in 2021—if you read a few of her reviews, you'll quickly see why.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura O'Kane

    I loved this story of Mizuki, a Tokyo housewife, who lives what she describes as a "beautiful life," with an amazing apartment, husband, and kids. But in reality, her husband has the typical lifestyle of a Japanese businessman (constant work), and as much as she loves her children, her life is rather unfulfilling. This is in part due to Japan's expectations of women, as well as her husband's neglect. Then she meets a man who runs several restaurants, and begins a friendship/relationship with him I loved this story of Mizuki, a Tokyo housewife, who lives what she describes as a "beautiful life," with an amazing apartment, husband, and kids. But in reality, her husband has the typical lifestyle of a Japanese businessman (constant work), and as much as she loves her children, her life is rather unfulfilling. This is in part due to Japan's expectations of women, as well as her husband's neglect. Then she meets a man who runs several restaurants, and begins a friendship/relationship with him. But is her new dual life really what she wants? A heartfelt, sincere and witty look at how a contemporary Japanese woman reconciles her life and what is most important to her. Mizuki is a character you can really feel for, and the city of Tokyo shines so brightly in the novel that it is almost another character. Highly recommended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    KC

    A Japanese housewife finds herself depressed and troubled. Her marriage is unbearable, motherhood is often overwhelming and tedious; forcing her to quell suicidal thoughts, until she meets another man. With honesty, wit, and shear vulnerability, this debut novel explores the beauty of Japan; the culture, the demands, the imperfections, and how one woman finally embraces her life. For fans of Fredrik Backman and Sally Rooney.

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