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Unconventional Love

South of the Border, West of the Sun- Book Review

Murakami’s weepingly beautiful tale, South of the Border, West of the Sun, is a timeless romantic story that captures every feeling known to man.

The tale is about Hajime and his quest to escape the loneliness in his heart. Growing up, Hajime did not have a sibling nor a friend to share his feelings with until he met the first woman he ever loved, Shimamoto. Time passed, and the two pieces of a deep love drifted apart. Hajime found himself in the vertex of teenage hormones. He fell in love with a simple homely girl, Izumi. He tried to love in his earnest way but lost to desire and lust. It started a vicious cycle of hurt and guilt inside him. Desperate to escape and reinvent himself, Hajime marries the third love of his life, Yukiko. He is thirty-six and happily married when someone from his past appears. Hajime is yet again at square one, staring at his empty heart and contemplating.

“The sad truth is that certain types of things can't go backward. Once they start going forward, no matter what you do, they can't go back the way they were. If even one little thing goes awry, then that's how it will stay forever.”

I was instantly attached to the concept of human flaws that centered around the characters of the books. Murakami chose not to patronize any of its fictional creations and instead tread on the path to show the beauty and un-beauty of human emotions. The protagonist’s identity (Hajime) is built on the banal yet surreal feature of us humans - mistakes and regrets.

“If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever—something I couldn't afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they're seventeen.”

Murakami beautifully captures the irrational power of love and desire. He has captivated his readers by narrating a dream-like yet heartbreaking story. The pages are filled with veiled truths; the scenes are radiant and beautiful like poetry. The joy and grief of reading this tale is a feeling that will stay in your heart for the longest time.


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