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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/26/2008 Archived Entry: "Novel review: Be With You"

Be With You
Story: Takuji Ichikawa
Translator: Terry Gallagher
Publisher: Viz Media LLC
ISBN-10: 1-4215-0762-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-4215-0762-0

Review by Catya W.

I can still remember the day I received an email from my cousin who enthused about this "super awesome" book she and her friends read that week, and that she sent me a copy. A few days later her copy of Ima, Ainiyukimasu ('now, I'm coming to be with you') arrived and a month later, she emailed for my response to the book. I had to admit I didn't get round to reading it because the story seemed lame.

Like those equally popular Japanese novels, Socrates in Love (A.K.A. Crying Out Love, In the Centre of the World); I Can Hear the Sea, and Our Pinky Promise Six Summers Ago. I also, admittedly, dismissed Ichikawa as Japan's Nicholas Sparks (whose books I didn't enjoy). She wrote back, something like, "You'll be sorry because if you don't read it, you'll never see how it could change the way you want to live your life." My response to that? Pfft.

This took place, perhaps, three or four years ago? However, since then I got to read it, but in snatches. A couple of pages here and a couple of pages there. It's never made an impact on me like it had on her. The impression I had during these random moments that it seemed some kind of a variation on Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife.

I was wrong, of course... well, not quite, but that was how it seemed at the time. Now, here's this book in English, translated by Terry Gallagher, and retitled: Be With You. How did it go for me this time? Should I take back that 'Pfft' response? Well, yes and no.

Be With You is a seemingly simple story told through widower Takumi who's struggling to bring up his six-year-old son, Yuji, since his beloved wife, Mio, unexpectedly died a year before. While patiently teaching his son to view death in an unconventional way, he grapples with this secret fear of whether his lifelong health issues had somehow affected Mio's happiness when she was alive.

Although already somewhat a recluse due to his health issues, this secret fear haunts him enough to make him even more withdrawn from the everyday life. It's effectively reduced his life to revolve around his son and their home. However, they do their best to get on with their lives, but neither has an idea that when the next rain season comes, it'd bring Mio back home to them.

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