Title: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World
Author: Laura Imai Messina
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.
Why This Book
The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is a gorgeous story of grief and moving on. It follows a woman who has lost her whole family to the 2011 tsunami in Japan as she tries to move forward, and the disconnected phone booth that gives her the means to do so and to start again. This phone booth is set in a garden on a couples’ property. Yui makes frequent trips and comes to know the couple who give grieving people the chance to say good bye and move on as well as many of the people who make the trip. It’s a beautiful garden with a beautiful mission, and I love how it just felt so peaceful and how it helped give grieving people what they needed.
My review: “this is a beautiful story. It’s heartbreaking, it’s sometimes hard to read, but it also speaks to moving forward while still remembering, of having hope and finding the drive to live again.”
Forever Lost in Literature gave this 5 stars, saying “This is what I would describe as a “quiet” book, with a very steady pacing that is meant ot be read slowly and deliberately. This isn’t a book to be rushed through, but one to be experienced and appreciated for what it is. As might be expected, there is a definite atmosphere of melancholy and grief, but at the same time there is a constant underlying current of a hope for something more.”
The Longest Chapter said “What happens lacks fictional sensation, all that what-if excitement to thrum a plot, and yet Messina keeps the pages moving, the main characters Yui and Takeshi lustrous, the sub-characters purposeful, and the story’s essence challenging, for at its heart is that phone booth and its interior intensity, which grabs with philosophic intention and pensive curiosity”
Amy’s Bookshelf said “It’s a beautiful story but one I think that is ultimately overshadowed by it’s confusing narrative and whimsical flow. I really loved Yui’s story and was compelled by her grief, but I wished that there was more palpable plot for me to sink my teeth into”
Lucy Rambles gave this a 5, saying “It filled my heart with warmth when you could see all the character’s lives intertwining together and becoming one big family that is connected by Bell Gardia. Whilst their stories are heartbreaking, their journies are inspiring and heartwarming.”
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Powell’s | Target | Walmart | Waterstones (UK) | Booktopia (Australia) | imusic of Denmark | Books-A-Million | Flipkart (India) | !ndigo (Canada) | Kobo | Audible | Google Books | Apple Books | Thrift Books | Book Depository | Abe Books | Dymocks (Australia) | Blackwell’s (UK) | Book Outlet | Abrams Books | The Center For Fiction | Swamp Fox Bookstore | Mahogany Books | Whistlestop Bookshop
Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.
This blog is my home base, but you can also find me on:
One thought on “Book Highlight: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina”