Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata || Book Review [spoiler free]

10/04/2020

Convenience Store Woman is about a.. well.. woman who works at a convince store in Japan. She's middle aged, single, and doesn't fall into the stereotypical life that those around her expect her to lead. In a way, she lives a hermit lifestyle that only consists of work and forced interactions with old friends. She likes the routine of work, as it helps her feel fulfilled. Her family shun her in a sense, for being different, which led to a very interesting look at the expectations that are put upon different women in different cultures. Her family - mother especially - view life as a failure if she doesn't marry or have children. This was also a heavy theme in the authors next book Earthlings. After a new guy begins working at the store, Keiko starts to wonder whether she ought to force herself into a life of normality. 

I adored the first half of this novel, it was quirky and I grew very fond of the wacky protagonist. She reminded me heavily of Eleanor Oliphant from Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (one of my favourite books), however, the last few chapters of this book infuriated me in a way that I haven't experienced in a while. It wasn't confusing, it was just.. not well done. I hated the choices the characters made, as it made them all seem rather flippant and it backtracked the entire characteristics of Keiko. I wanted this book to be more 'slice of lifey', without the drastic life changes for the main character. (spoiler: especially when it didn't lead anywhere)

As I read Convenience Store Woman I couldn't help but notice how similarly the writing was to the works of Sylvia Plath. I feel like if you enjoyed this novel, you'd very likely enjoy Mary Ventura and The Ninth Kingdom - a quirky short story written by Plath that was recently published for the first time. Both books were small, but mighty strange in the best way possible. I may not of enjoyed the second half of Convenience Store Woman, but I devoured the first in a single sitting and that was enough for me to immediately request the authors next translated book Earthlings which has just been released in English. 

All in all, this book did disappoint me but if it's been on your TBR I would recommend picking it up. It's definitely an experience, and as it's so short you won't waste a lot of your time if it turns out to not be your cup of tea. If you hate the ending as much as me, we can discuss it! 

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