Fifty Words for high quality discount Rain: A Novel sale

Fifty Words for high quality discount Rain: A Novel sale

Fifty Words for high quality discount Rain: A Novel sale

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Good Morning America Book Club Pick and New York Times Bestseller!
 
From debut author Asha Lemmie, “a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together.” —Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Nightingale

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”

Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free.

Amazon.com Review

Set in post WWII Japan, Fifty Words for Rain follows Noriko Kamiza, the love child of her married, aristocratic mother and an African American soldier. Left with her scandalized grandparents and kept out of sight in an attic, “Nori” succumbs to her sorry lot—which involves beatings and excruciating chemical baths to lighten her skin—until the unexpected arrival of her half-brother. Akira manages to crack Nori’s world open just enough to give her hope, triggering a nail-biting chain of events as her grandparents conspire to close it yet again. Depressing much? Actually no. You will root for Nori, her resilient spirit, and her determination to assert her own identity and live life on her own terms. Asha Lemmie has written a rousing and addictive debut you won’t want to miss. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Review

Praise for Asha Lemmie and Fifty Words for Rain

“Novels like Asha Lemmie’s debut allow me to experience the high of the endurance athlete—consumed by a far-flung odyssey, coming up only for a sip of water. . . . I inhaled Fifty Words for Rain in one day. I had no choice.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Usually I take my time with books, but I found it very hard to step away from this story. Filled with mystery, music, sadness, and adventures,  Fifty Words for Rain flies by—yet lingers long after. . . . Anyone who has ever lost a friend—or, more happily, found a family—will love this beautiful story.” —Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize–winning activist 

" Fifty Words for Rain is a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together. This coming-of-age tale about a biracial girl in postwar Japan is an assured, confident debut by a talented new author." —Kristin Hannah, #1  New York Times–bestselling author of  The Nightingale 

“A hugely compelling debut about Noriko, a mixed race girl growing up in Japan after WWII. Moving and honest and at times intense, Asha Lemmie takes us on an emotional journey that spans years, one which sheds light on Noriko''s family traditions, prejudices, struggles, triumphs, and ultimate transformation. This is a well-researched and eye-opening tale, told with compassion that breathes through each page.” —Abi Daré,  New York Times–bestselling author of The  Girl with the Louding Voice

"[An] epic, twisty debut . . . Sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, Lemmie’s heartbreaking story of familial obligations packs an emotional wallop." — Publishers Weekly

"Lemmie’s debut novel is a gripping historical tale that will transport readers through myriad emotions. . . . Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko’s complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut." — Booklist   

"Lemmie’s sweeping historical backdrop, from the post–World War II decline of minor royalty through the expanding liberations of the 1960s, is breathtaking. . . . A bold historical portrait of a woman overcoming oppression." — Kirkus  Reviews

"Lemmie''s novel explores the illusion of choice for women in a preordained societal structure and the powerful pull of independence." —PopMatters.com

"This is a debut you won’t want to miss." —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review 

"This virtuosic debut enthralled me from the very first page. Lemmie’s compelling and compassionate portrait of a young girl in post-WWII Japan is meticulously researched and beautifully crafted. What a heartbreaking, exceptional story by a sublime talent—I can’t wait to see what she does next!" —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of  The Lions of Fifth Avenue

" Fifty Words for Rain is an impressive debut novel about a mixed-race girl growing up in post-WWII Japan. Sensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity, Asha Lemmie tells a story that we have not heard before with an ending that is as surprising as it is brutally honest." —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of  Beneath a Scarlet Sky

"Asha Lemmie’s debut novel  Fifty Words for Rain follows eight-year-old Nori after she is abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself in the unkind graces of a family built on tradition and power. Lemmie has penned an impassioned story that confronts the uncomfortable truths behind institutionalized prejudice and the history of violence and subjugation of the powerless by those on the highest rungs of society. It’s an emotional journey with an unexpected ending." —Mary Lynn Bracht, author of  White Chrysanthemum

"From page one, I was rooting for Nori, the illegitimate daughter of a Japanese aristocrat and an African American soldier. Shackled by family condemnation and the prejudices of post-WWII Japan, Nori must transform from docile young girl into fierce, unapologetic heroine. A wholly immersive coming-of-age epic from a talented young writer—Asha Lemmie pours her passion onto the page." —Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here Is Beautiful

About the Author

Asha Lemmie is the New York Times–bestselling author of Fifty Words for Rain. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she relocated to New York City where she worked in book publishing. Asha writes historical fiction that focuses on bringing unique perspectives to life. In normal circumstances, she divides her time between New York, London, and Kyoto.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prelude

Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Summer 1948

The first real memory Nori had was pulling up to that house. For many years afterward, she would try to stretch the boundaries of her mind further, to what came before that day. Time and time again, she’d lie on her back in the stillness of the night and try to recall. Sometimes she’d catch a glimpse in her head of a tiny apartment with lurid yellow walls. But the image would disappear as quickly as it came, leaving no sense of satisfaction in its wake. And so if you asked her, Nori would say that her life had officially begun the day she laid eyes on the imposing estate that rested serenely between the crests of two green hills. It was a stunningly beautiful place—there was no denying it—and yet, despite this beauty, Nori felt her stomach clench and her gut churn at the sight of it. Her mother rarely took her any‑ where, and somehow she knew that something was waiting for her there that she would not like.

The faded blue automobile skidded to a stop on the street across from the estate. It was in the traditional style, surrounded by high white walls. The first set of gates was open, allowing full view into the meticulously arranged courtyard beyond. But the inner gates to the house itself were sealed shut. There were words engraved at the top of the main gate, embossed in gold lettering for all to see. But Nori could not read them. She could read and write her name—No‑ri‑ko—but nothing else. In that moment, she wished she could read every word ever written, in every language from sea to sea. Not being able to read those letters frustrated her to an extent she didn’t understand. She turned to her mother.

“Okaasan, what do those letters say?”

The woman seated beside her let out a stifled sigh of frustration. It was clear that she’d been a great beauty in her day. She was still gorgeous, but her young face was beginning to reflect the toll life had taken on her. Her dark, thick hair was bound behind her head in a braid that kept attempting to unravel. Her soft gray eyes were cast downwards. She would not meet her daughter’s gaze.

Kamiza,” she answered at last. “It says Kamiza.”

“But that’s our name, isn’t it?” Nori chirped, her curiosity immediately piqued.

Her mother let out a strangled giggle that made the hair on the back of Nori’s neck stand up. The driver of the car, a man Nori had never seen before this morning, shot them a startled glance in the rearview mirror.

“Yes,” she responded softly, eyes alight with a strange look that Nori’s limited vocabulary did not have the means to name. “That is our family name. This is where my mother and father live, child. Your grandparents.”

Nori felt her heartbeat quicken. Her mother had never before made any mention of relatives or family. Indeed, the two of them had drifted along in solitude so long it seemed strange to Nori that they could actually be anchored to a tangible place.

“Did you live here once, Okaasan?”

“Once,” her mother said dryly. “Before you were born. A long time ago.

”Nori scrunched her face up in a frown. “Why did you leave?” 

“That’s enough questions now, Noriko. Get your things. Come.”

Nori obeyed, biting her lip to refrain from inquiring further. Her mother did not like questions. Every time Nori asked something, she was met with a disapproving glance. It was better not to ask. On the rare occasions Nori was able to please her mother, she was given a dry half smile in return. Sometimes, if she was especially good, her mother would reward her with some candy or a new ribbon. So far, in eight years of life, Nori had a collection of twelve ribbons, one for each time she’d been able to make her mother happy.

“It is good for a woman to learn silence,” her mother always said. “If a woman knows nothing else, she should know how to be silent.”

Nori stepped onto the pavement, checking to make sure she had all of her things. She had her little brown suitcase with the straps that were fraying apart and her purple silk handkerchief tied around the handle. She had her blue satchel with the silver clasp that she had gotten for her last birthday. And that was all she had. Not that Nori thought she needed much more than that.
For the first time since she’d been roused at dawn that morning, Nori noticed that her mother was not carrying any bags. The woman stood as if her pale pink satin slippers were rooted to the unnaturally white sidewalk. Her bright eyes were fixed on a spot Nori could not follow.

Nori took note of what her mother was wearing: a short‑ sleeved, baby blue knee‑length dress. Tan stockings. Around her neck she wore a petite silver cross with a little diamond in the center. She had her hands clasped in front of her chest, so tightly that tiny blue veins had become visible beneath the delicate skin.

Nori reached out a hesitant hand to touch her mother’s arm. “Okaasan . . .”

Her mother blinked rapidly and unclasped her hands, arms falling to swing limply at her sides. Her eyes, however, did not move from their perch.

“Noriko,” she said, with such unusual affection saturating her tone that it left Nori in near disbelief, “I want you to make me a promise.”

Nori blinked up at her mother, doing her best to look pretty and obedient and all that her mother would have her be. She would not spoil this moment with her clumsy tongue.

“Yes, Okaasan?”

“Promise me you will obey.

”The request caught her off guard. Not because it was unlike something her mother would say, but because not once in her life had Nori ever disobeyed. It didn’t seem like something that needed to be requested. Her confusion must have been evident because her mother turned and knelt down so that
they were nearly eye level.

“Noriko,” she said, with an urgency Nori had never heard before. “Promise me. Promise me that you will obey in all things. Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist. Do not think if thinking will lead you somewhere you ought not to be. Only smile and do as you are told. Only your life is more important than your obedience. Only the air you breathe. Promise me this.”

Nori thought to herself that this conversation was very odd. A thousand questions burned her tongue. She swallowed them back.

“Yes, Okaasan. Yakusoku shimasu. I promise.”

Her mother let out a ragged sigh, caught somewhere be‑ tween relief and despair.

“Now listen. You will go inside the gate, Nori. Your grand‑ parents will ask you your name. What will you tell them?”

“Noriko, Okaasan. Noriko Kamiza.”

“Yes. And they will ask you how old you are. And what will you tell them?”

“I’m eight, Okaasan.”

“They will ask where I have gone. And you will tell them that I did not tell you. That you don’t know. Do you understand?”

Nori felt her mouth begin to go dry. Her heart fluttered against her chest, like a little bird trying to escape a cage. “Okaasan, where are you going? Aren’t you coming with me?”

Her mother did not reply. She stood up, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a thick yellow envelope.

“Take this,” she urged, pressing it into Nori’s sweaty palm. “Give it to them when they ask questions.”

Nori’s voice began to scale up in panic. “Okaasan, where are you going?”

Her mother looked away.

“Nori, hush. Do not cry. Stop crying this instant!”

She felt the tears that had begun to well recede inside her eye sockets with frightening speed. It seemed that they too were bound to obey.

“Noriko,” her mother continued, tone softening to a whisper. “You are a good girl. Do as you are told and everything will be fine. Don’t cry now. You have no reason to cry.”

“Yes, Okaasan.

”Her mother hesitated, searching for words for several long moments. Finally, she decided there were none and settled for patting her daughter twice on the top of the head.

“I’ll watch you go. Go on. Get your things.”

Noriko picked up her belongings and proceeded slowly to‑ wards the gate. It towered over her. Her steps grew smaller and smaller as she approached it.

Every few steps she’d peer over her shoulder to make sure that her mother was still watching. She was. Noriko swallowed. When she finally reached the gate, she paused, unsure of how to proceed. It was open, and yet she was quite sure that she should not be entering. She waited for her mother to instruct her, but the woman remained on the sidewalk, watching in silence.

Step by step, Nori inched up the walkway. When she was halfway up, she paused, unable to continue any farther. She turned in desperation to her mother, who by now had made her way back to the car.

“Okaasan!” Nori whimpered, her previous calm leaving her in one terrifying moment. She wanted to run back to her mother, but something kept her pinned to the spot.

That something held her there, relentless and pitiless in the strength of its grasp. It did not let her move, nor breathe, nor cry out as she watched her mother give her one last, strangely bright gaze before getting back into the car and shutting the door behind her. She could not so much as blink as she watched the car speed down the street, around the corner, and out of sight.

Nori was not quite sure how long she stood transfixed. The sun was high in the sky when she finally resumed her slow march up the walkway through the courtyard. Still in a trance, she raised her tiny hand to knock lightly on the gates that obscured the house, leaving only its upper floors and looming roof visible. No one answered. She pushed, half hoping they would not open. They didn’t, and they were far too heavy for her to make another attempt.

She sat. And she waited. For what, exactly, she was unsure.

A few moments later, the gates opened, moved by an invisible force. Two large men in suits emerged, peering down at her with disdain.

“Go away, little girl,” the first one said. “No beggars.”

“I’m not a beggar,” Nori protested, finding her feet. “I’m Noriko.”

They both stared at her blankly. Nori extended the envelope her mother had given her with a trembling hand.

Kamiza Noriko desu.”

The two exchanged an indecipherable glance. Then, without another word, they disappeared back behind the gate.

Nori waited. Her head was spinning, but she forced herself to remain standing.

After another long moment, the first of the men returned. 
He crooked his finger at her. “Come on.”

He snatched up her belongings and marched ahead, leaving her to rush after him. The house was beautiful, more a palace than a house, but Nori’s attention quickly focused on the figure standing in front of it.

An elderly woman, with her mother’s eyes and streaks of silver in her neatly coiffed hair, stared down at her in utter disbelief.

Because there was nothing else to do, Nori did as she was told. “Konbanwa, Obaasama. My name is Nori.”

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4.3 out of 54.3 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

M in Minnesota
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Hugely disappointing
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2020
I’m floored by the overwhelming praise for this book. I wanted to like it, but I found the writing childlike and the abuse-at-every-turn exhausting. Most of the characterization is paper-thin and many of the people in the book seem like stereotypes. At the end of the story,... See more
I’m floored by the overwhelming praise for this book. I wanted to like it, but I found the writing childlike and the abuse-at-every-turn exhausting. Most of the characterization is paper-thin and many of the people in the book seem like stereotypes. At the end of the story, Nori’s life-changing decisions seem rushed. There’s nothing to add to the reader’s understanding of why she does what she does. I finished the book but I was very disappointed. In the end, it was formulaic and not a story I will remember or think about.
115 people found this helpful
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DomeniqueCY
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Captivating Read, Some Shortfalls
Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2020
"Fifty Words for Rain" follows the story of a young half African American, Half Japanese girl as she grows up in post-WWII Japan. The book had a nice rhythm and fans of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte will really enjoy the plotline and overall storytelling. The downsides to... See more
"Fifty Words for Rain" follows the story of a young half African American, Half Japanese girl as she grows up in post-WWII Japan. The book had a nice rhythm and fans of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte will really enjoy the plotline and overall storytelling. The downsides to the book are that the dialogue seems fake at times, and I personally grapple with the portrayal of the Japanese culture. 

I really loved "Pachinko", and this book is very similar. Both books are sweeping and look at anomalies in Japanese society. Both books portray post-war Japan as a place of extreme juxtaposition between old and new. The old being an inflexible honored-based reasoning system, the new being the progressive worldly types looking for an egalitarian balance. In the place of Korean transplants as in "Pachinko", we have Nori a half black "bastard" child in a wealthy family.
 
Similarities end there. The writing in this book is much more simple, and the story really seems to follow the typical arcs of outcasts-in-nobility (see rightful heirs, marriage-ability, lots of leisurely time in gardens, big estates, etc). The conversations seem to play out awkwardly or overly romantic (again, in the Jane Austen sense of like can''t-touch-this-Victorian-romance). There are elements also of the "Wide Sargasso Sea" in how Nori''s overall ostracisation leads to mental instability.

The other piece I can''t quite wrap my head around is the amount of physical abuse and harm that comes to Nori. Just about every third chapter she is being beaten or scalded or stabbed (or stabbing herself).  We get that the family hates her because she is a bastard, and also demeans her because of her skin color and hair, but I do not understand if the amount of bodily injury is a justified reflection on Japanese culture or a just storytelling device by the author...
102 people found this helpful
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kathleen g
5.0 out of 5 stars
great debut on a fascinating subject
Reviewed in the United States on September 1, 2020
It''s the late 1940s and Nori''s mother leaves the 8 year old at her grandmother''s house and disappears, leaving Nori with only hair ribbons to remember her. Her grandmother, a cousin of the Emperor, is ashamed of the half Japanese-half African American, not only because of... See more
It''s the late 1940s and Nori''s mother leaves the 8 year old at her grandmother''s house and disappears, leaving Nori with only hair ribbons to remember her. Her grandmother, a cousin of the Emperor, is ashamed of the half Japanese-half African American, not only because of her race but also because she is the product of adultery. Nori is locked up in the attic, in a room where the windows are boarded up, with only a maid to be even the least bit kind. Then, miracle of miracles, her half brother Akira''s father dies and he comes to the house. Akira gets Nori released from the attic, teaches her the violin, and lightens her life- but it''s still deeply abnormal because Nori does not exist. She was born at home and there are no records of her anywhere, meaning she can''t go to school, among other things. Akira, a violin prodigy, brings Will and Alice home with him from Paris- and this opens a new chapter in Nori''s life. No spoilers from me on what happens but there are some big twists here. This is very much a coming of age novel which looks at the stigma of mixed race and out of wedlock birth in post war Japan. You''ll root for Nori, who wants nothing more than to be loved. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. For historical fiction fans and those looking for an excellent debut well worth the read.
71 people found this helpful
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T.S.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
INCREDIBLE.
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2020
50 Words for Rain is truly one of the best stories I have ever read. It''s the kind of story that makes it''s way into your bones and settles there. I couldn''t put it down...what an absolutely fantastic read.
43 people found this helpful
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Mr. August
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Torrent of Discrimination in Excellent Debut
Reviewed in the United States on September 9, 2020
I was excited to read this book. I loved the cover, the summary and information about this new author. The opening chapter was excellent. Our main character, Noriko Kamiza is eight years old and her mother leaves her daughter at the home of her grandparents... See more
I was excited to read this book. I loved the cover, the summary and information about this new author.

The opening chapter was excellent. Our main character, Noriko Kamiza is eight years old and her mother leaves her daughter at the home of her grandparents with a letter, most likely explaining who she is. It is a melodramatic scene as Noriko watches her mother drive away without a lookback at her young daughter who is confused with a broken heart. Who could not be emotionally injured? Nori’s grandparents come from a noble Japanese family and the sight of their bastard granddaughter is a foreshadowing for cruelty and a study of the aristocratic family.

Nori is relegated to the attic, a sparse, small area, no windows with minimal furniture and a prayer area. Her grandmother, Yuko, visits her periodically to ask her questions.
It is a minor royal house. Yoku seems to be a cousin of the Emperor and Lemmie provides a detailed historical framework post World War II to the 1960’s.

Nori is obedient but the visits end with beatings. In between, Nori is given baths with special soaps in the hopes of changing her skin color; Nori’s father is an African American serviceman. Nori’s mother, who abandoned her, is an unhappy, but beautiful woman, who is searching for an emotional attachment and true love.

Nori finds out she has a half-brother who comes to live with them; his father died but he is adored by his grandparents, the opposite of Nori. Nori seeks out her brother, Akira, in the large house and finds him to be kind, smart and talented. She believes he is her savior, and he is, up to a point. They become close despite the anger from his grandmother. Nori never sees her mother again but a servant provides her with her mother’s diaries, which are interspersed throughout the novel, a bit confusing. It seems like Nori took years to read them. I would have thought her curiosity about her mother would render her impatient to discover why her mother abandoned her.
It is an ultra-emotional story. Nori is a mixture of kindness, tantrums, physical accidents and highly fervid exhibitions. Her emotions are on display throughout most of the novel, and they are never peaceful. She does meet with adversity and physical attacks most of her life, but just when I thought Nori had settled into some peaceful internal strength, there is a highly-charged disturbing or physical scene. It is a wonderful story with too many cluttered passions one after the other.
35 people found this helpful
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sanlass
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Eh. Not a great read.
Reviewed in the United States on October 12, 2020
Spoiler Alert...This poor woman goes through hell, then after she is finally free and can make her own way, for some inexplicable reason she decides the family who mistreated her, tried to kill her and hated her, deserves her care. It made no sense and frankly wasn''t very... See more
Spoiler Alert...This poor woman goes through hell, then after she is finally free and can make her own way, for some inexplicable reason she decides the family who mistreated her, tried to kill her and hated her, deserves her care. It made no sense and frankly wasn''t very well written. I am sorry I wasted my time reading it.
30 people found this helpful
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Sharon McGraw
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Worst book I ever read
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2020
I would urge readers not to read
Story line is sabotaged by writer’s need to include every possible scenario ever imagined
35 people found this helpful
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L. Snodgrass
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Good Read
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2020
Loved the characters, I liked the way the characters grew in the story and how they came into their own. I would have given 5 stars except I really didn’t like the ending. Maybe there is a sequel but to me the ending was abrupt and with out finish
25 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Stephanie
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Riveting read
Reviewed in Canada on September 6, 2020
Fifty Words for Rain is a strong debut novel, telling the story of Nori, a young biracial girl in post-WWII Japan, born to a Japanese aristocratic mother and her lover, an African-American soldier. Nori is abandoned by her mother and sent to live with her Japanese...See more
Fifty Words for Rain is a strong debut novel, telling the story of Nori, a young biracial girl in post-WWII Japan, born to a Japanese aristocratic mother and her lover, an African-American soldier. Nori is abandoned by her mother and sent to live with her Japanese grandmother who cannot abide a granddaughter who is illegitimate and part black, and neither can the traditional rules-bound Japanese society in which they live. Nori’s life is difficult and bleak as she is hidden away by her grandmother in the attic, treated harshly and forced to take chemical baths to lighten her skin. Nori’s life changes with the arrival of her Japanese half-brother, Akira, who tries to help her build a life within the confines of the regimented, discriminatory and anti-American post-WWII Japanese society. The plot is generally well-paced, although the middle part does drag a little, the writing is excellent, and the characters are fascinating. Themes of self-acceptance, the challenges of being a woman in a traditionally patriarchal society, resilience and strength are woven throughout the novel. I could not believe that this is the author’s first novel. Very well-done and well-deserving of being the September GMA book club pick!
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Dafydd bach
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An amazing first novel
Reviewed in Canada on June 8, 2021
An extraordinary story of the life of a mixed race child born into Royalty in Japan. Perceived as the families shame she is imprisonments in an attic , beaten and humiliated. She is rescued by a half brother, who like her was abandoned by their mother who had tried to...See more
An extraordinary story of the life of a mixed race child born into Royalty in Japan. Perceived as the families shame she is imprisonments in an attic , beaten and humiliated. She is rescued by a half brother, who like her was abandoned by their mother who had tried to escape the binding family ties. It is a story of triumph of the spirit against overwhelming odds. The book is hard to put down and one is left wanting more at the end.
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Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent story.
Reviewed in Canada on September 16, 2020
I loved this book. Spoiler alert! I wish we could of seen Noriko getting older, not just her childhood and until she was 26. I believe the readers would of like to see how she became after. She was only 26 and the book ended.
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KLH
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Powerful story of loss, family and identity
Reviewed in Canada on December 31, 2020
This is a stunningly rich and poignant story about identity, family, power and all the things that keep us from being who we are meant to be. At times unbearably sad and yet deeply moving.
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Kathleen O'C
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Story of love, loss and power
Reviewed in Canada on January 24, 2021
Good story of the struggle of love and hate between family and friends. I was a little disappointed how the story ended but it did leave room for a sequel.
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Product Description

Good Morning America Book Club Pick and New York Times Bestseller!
 
From debut author Asha Lemmie, “a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together.” —Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Nightingale

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”

Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free.

Amazon.com Review

Set in post WWII Japan, Fifty Words for Rain follows Noriko Kamiza, the love child of her married, aristocratic mother and an African American soldier. Left with her scandalized grandparents and kept out of sight in an attic, “Nori” succumbs to her sorry lot—which involves beatings and excruciating chemical baths to lighten her skin—until the unexpected arrival of her half-brother. Akira manages to crack Nori’s world open just enough to give her hope, triggering a nail-biting chain of events as her grandparents conspire to close it yet again. Depressing much? Actually no. You will root for Nori, her resilient spirit, and her determination to assert her own identity and live life on her own terms. Asha Lemmie has written a rousing and addictive debut you won’t want to miss. —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Review

Praise for Asha Lemmie and Fifty Words for Rain

“Novels like Asha Lemmie’s debut allow me to experience the high of the endurance athlete—consumed by a far-flung odyssey, coming up only for a sip of water. . . . I inhaled Fifty Words for Rain in one day. I had no choice.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Usually I take my time with books, but I found it very hard to step away from this story. Filled with mystery, music, sadness, and adventures,  Fifty Words for Rain flies by—yet lingers long after. . . . Anyone who has ever lost a friend—or, more happily, found a family—will love this beautiful story.” —Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize–winning activist 

" Fifty Words for Rain is a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together. This coming-of-age tale about a biracial girl in postwar Japan is an assured, confident debut by a talented new author." —Kristin Hannah, #1  New York Times–bestselling author of  The Nightingale 

“A hugely compelling debut about Noriko, a mixed race girl growing up in Japan after WWII. Moving and honest and at times intense, Asha Lemmie takes us on an emotional journey that spans years, one which sheds light on Noriko''s family traditions, prejudices, struggles, triumphs, and ultimate transformation. This is a well-researched and eye-opening tale, told with compassion that breathes through each page.” —Abi Daré,  New York Times–bestselling author of The  Girl with the Louding Voice

"[An] epic, twisty debut . . . Sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, Lemmie’s heartbreaking story of familial obligations packs an emotional wallop." — Publishers Weekly

"Lemmie’s debut novel is a gripping historical tale that will transport readers through myriad emotions. . . . Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko’s complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut." — Booklist   

"Lemmie’s sweeping historical backdrop, from the post–World War II decline of minor royalty through the expanding liberations of the 1960s, is breathtaking. . . . A bold historical portrait of a woman overcoming oppression." — Kirkus  Reviews

"Lemmie''s novel explores the illusion of choice for women in a preordained societal structure and the powerful pull of independence." —PopMatters.com

"This is a debut you won’t want to miss." —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review 

"This virtuosic debut enthralled me from the very first page. Lemmie’s compelling and compassionate portrait of a young girl in post-WWII Japan is meticulously researched and beautifully crafted. What a heartbreaking, exceptional story by a sublime talent—I can’t wait to see what she does next!" —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of  The Lions of Fifth Avenue

" Fifty Words for Rain is an impressive debut novel about a mixed-race girl growing up in post-WWII Japan. Sensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity, Asha Lemmie tells a story that we have not heard before with an ending that is as surprising as it is brutally honest." —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of  Beneath a Scarlet Sky

"Asha Lemmie’s debut novel  Fifty Words for Rain follows eight-year-old Nori after she is abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself in the unkind graces of a family built on tradition and power. Lemmie has penned an impassioned story that confronts the uncomfortable truths behind institutionalized prejudice and the history of violence and subjugation of the powerless by those on the highest rungs of society. It’s an emotional journey with an unexpected ending." —Mary Lynn Bracht, author of  White Chrysanthemum

"From page one, I was rooting for Nori, the illegitimate daughter of a Japanese aristocrat and an African American soldier. Shackled by family condemnation and the prejudices of post-WWII Japan, Nori must transform from docile young girl into fierce, unapologetic heroine. A wholly immersive coming-of-age epic from a talented young writer—Asha Lemmie pours her passion onto the page." —Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here Is Beautiful

About the Author

Asha Lemmie is the New York Times–bestselling author of Fifty Words for Rain. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she relocated to New York City where she worked in book publishing. Asha writes historical fiction that focuses on bringing unique perspectives to life. In normal circumstances, she divides her time between New York, London, and Kyoto.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prelude

Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Summer 1948

The first real memory Nori had was pulling up to that house. For many years afterward, she would try to stretch the boundaries of her mind further, to what came before that day. Time and time again, she’d lie on her back in the stillness of the night and try to recall. Sometimes she’d catch a glimpse in her head of a tiny apartment with lurid yellow walls. But the image would disappear as quickly as it came, leaving no sense of satisfaction in its wake. And so if you asked her, Nori would say that her life had officially begun the day she laid eyes on the imposing estate that rested serenely between the crests of two green hills. It was a stunningly beautiful place—there was no denying it—and yet, despite this beauty, Nori felt her stomach clench and her gut churn at the sight of it. Her mother rarely took her any‑ where, and somehow she knew that something was waiting for her there that she would not like.

The faded blue automobile skidded to a stop on the street across from the estate. It was in the traditional style, surrounded by high white walls. The first set of gates was open, allowing full view into the meticulously arranged courtyard beyond. But the inner gates to the house itself were sealed shut. There were words engraved at the top of the main gate, embossed in gold lettering for all to see. But Nori could not read them. She could read and write her name—No‑ri‑ko—but nothing else. In that moment, she wished she could read every word ever written, in every language from sea to sea. Not being able to read those letters frustrated her to an extent she didn’t understand. She turned to her mother.

“Okaasan, what do those letters say?”

The woman seated beside her let out a stifled sigh of frustration. It was clear that she’d been a great beauty in her day. She was still gorgeous, but her young face was beginning to reflect the toll life had taken on her. Her dark, thick hair was bound behind her head in a braid that kept attempting to unravel. Her soft gray eyes were cast downwards. She would not meet her daughter’s gaze.

Kamiza,” she answered at last. “It says Kamiza.”

“But that’s our name, isn’t it?” Nori chirped, her curiosity immediately piqued.

Her mother let out a strangled giggle that made the hair on the back of Nori’s neck stand up. The driver of the car, a man Nori had never seen before this morning, shot them a startled glance in the rearview mirror.

“Yes,” she responded softly, eyes alight with a strange look that Nori’s limited vocabulary did not have the means to name. “That is our family name. This is where my mother and father live, child. Your grandparents.”

Nori felt her heartbeat quicken. Her mother had never before made any mention of relatives or family. Indeed, the two of them had drifted along in solitude so long it seemed strange to Nori that they could actually be anchored to a tangible place.

“Did you live here once, Okaasan?”

“Once,” her mother said dryly. “Before you were born. A long time ago.

”Nori scrunched her face up in a frown. “Why did you leave?” 

“That’s enough questions now, Noriko. Get your things. Come.”

Nori obeyed, biting her lip to refrain from inquiring further. Her mother did not like questions. Every time Nori asked something, she was met with a disapproving glance. It was better not to ask. On the rare occasions Nori was able to please her mother, she was given a dry half smile in return. Sometimes, if she was especially good, her mother would reward her with some candy or a new ribbon. So far, in eight years of life, Nori had a collection of twelve ribbons, one for each time she’d been able to make her mother happy.

“It is good for a woman to learn silence,” her mother always said. “If a woman knows nothing else, she should know how to be silent.”

Nori stepped onto the pavement, checking to make sure she had all of her things. She had her little brown suitcase with the straps that were fraying apart and her purple silk handkerchief tied around the handle. She had her blue satchel with the silver clasp that she had gotten for her last birthday. And that was all she had. Not that Nori thought she needed much more than that.
For the first time since she’d been roused at dawn that morning, Nori noticed that her mother was not carrying any bags. The woman stood as if her pale pink satin slippers were rooted to the unnaturally white sidewalk. Her bright eyes were fixed on a spot Nori could not follow.

Nori took note of what her mother was wearing: a short‑ sleeved, baby blue knee‑length dress. Tan stockings. Around her neck she wore a petite silver cross with a little diamond in the center. She had her hands clasped in front of her chest, so tightly that tiny blue veins had become visible beneath the delicate skin.

Nori reached out a hesitant hand to touch her mother’s arm. “Okaasan . . .”

Her mother blinked rapidly and unclasped her hands, arms falling to swing limply at her sides. Her eyes, however, did not move from their perch.

“Noriko,” she said, with such unusual affection saturating her tone that it left Nori in near disbelief, “I want you to make me a promise.”

Nori blinked up at her mother, doing her best to look pretty and obedient and all that her mother would have her be. She would not spoil this moment with her clumsy tongue.

“Yes, Okaasan?”

“Promise me you will obey.

”The request caught her off guard. Not because it was unlike something her mother would say, but because not once in her life had Nori ever disobeyed. It didn’t seem like something that needed to be requested. Her confusion must have been evident because her mother turned and knelt down so that
they were nearly eye level.

“Noriko,” she said, with an urgency Nori had never heard before. “Promise me. Promise me that you will obey in all things. Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist. Do not think if thinking will lead you somewhere you ought not to be. Only smile and do as you are told. Only your life is more important than your obedience. Only the air you breathe. Promise me this.”

Nori thought to herself that this conversation was very odd. A thousand questions burned her tongue. She swallowed them back.

“Yes, Okaasan. Yakusoku shimasu. I promise.”

Her mother let out a ragged sigh, caught somewhere be‑ tween relief and despair.

“Now listen. You will go inside the gate, Nori. Your grand‑ parents will ask you your name. What will you tell them?”

“Noriko, Okaasan. Noriko Kamiza.”

“Yes. And they will ask you how old you are. And what will you tell them?”

“I’m eight, Okaasan.”

“They will ask where I have gone. And you will tell them that I did not tell you. That you don’t know. Do you understand?”

Nori felt her mouth begin to go dry. Her heart fluttered against her chest, like a little bird trying to escape a cage. “Okaasan, where are you going? Aren’t you coming with me?”

Her mother did not reply. She stood up, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a thick yellow envelope.

“Take this,” she urged, pressing it into Nori’s sweaty palm. “Give it to them when they ask questions.”

Nori’s voice began to scale up in panic. “Okaasan, where are you going?”

Her mother looked away.

“Nori, hush. Do not cry. Stop crying this instant!”

She felt the tears that had begun to well recede inside her eye sockets with frightening speed. It seemed that they too were bound to obey.

“Noriko,” her mother continued, tone softening to a whisper. “You are a good girl. Do as you are told and everything will be fine. Don’t cry now. You have no reason to cry.”

“Yes, Okaasan.

”Her mother hesitated, searching for words for several long moments. Finally, she decided there were none and settled for patting her daughter twice on the top of the head.

“I’ll watch you go. Go on. Get your things.”

Noriko picked up her belongings and proceeded slowly to‑ wards the gate. It towered over her. Her steps grew smaller and smaller as she approached it.

Every few steps she’d peer over her shoulder to make sure that her mother was still watching. She was. Noriko swallowed. When she finally reached the gate, she paused, unsure of how to proceed. It was open, and yet she was quite sure that she should not be entering. She waited for her mother to instruct her, but the woman remained on the sidewalk, watching in silence.

Step by step, Nori inched up the walkway. When she was halfway up, she paused, unable to continue any farther. She turned in desperation to her mother, who by now had made her way back to the car.

“Okaasan!” Nori whimpered, her previous calm leaving her in one terrifying moment. She wanted to run back to her mother, but something kept her pinned to the spot.

That something held her there, relentless and pitiless in the strength of its grasp. It did not let her move, nor breathe, nor cry out as she watched her mother give her one last, strangely bright gaze before getting back into the car and shutting the door behind her. She could not so much as blink as she watched the car speed down the street, around the corner, and out of sight.

Nori was not quite sure how long she stood transfixed. The sun was high in the sky when she finally resumed her slow march up the walkway through the courtyard. Still in a trance, she raised her tiny hand to knock lightly on the gates that obscured the house, leaving only its upper floors and looming roof visible. No one answered. She pushed, half hoping they would not open. They didn’t, and they were far too heavy for her to make another attempt.

She sat. And she waited. For what, exactly, she was unsure.

A few moments later, the gates opened, moved by an invisible force. Two large men in suits emerged, peering down at her with disdain.

“Go away, little girl,” the first one said. “No beggars.”

“I’m not a beggar,” Nori protested, finding her feet. “I’m Noriko.”

They both stared at her blankly. Nori extended the envelope her mother had given her with a trembling hand.

Kamiza Noriko desu.”

The two exchanged an indecipherable glance. Then, without another word, they disappeared back behind the gate.

Nori waited. Her head was spinning, but she forced herself to remain standing.

After another long moment, the first of the men returned. 
He crooked his finger at her. “Come on.”

He snatched up her belongings and marched ahead, leaving her to rush after him. The house was beautiful, more a palace than a house, but Nori’s attention quickly focused on the figure standing in front of it.

An elderly woman, with her mother’s eyes and streaks of silver in her neatly coiffed hair, stared down at her in utter disbelief.

Because there was nothing else to do, Nori did as she was told. “Konbanwa, Obaasama. My name is Nori.”

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