Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review: Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng

Books may be Mayumi Saito’s greatest love and her one source of true pleasure. Forty-one years old, disenchanted wife and dutiful mother, Mayumi’s work as a librarian on a small island off the coast of New England feeds her passion for reading and provides her with many occasions for wry observations on human nature, but it does little to remedy the mundanity of her days. That is, until the day she issues a library card to a shy seventeen-year-old boy and swiftly succumbs to a sexual obsession that subverts the way she sees the library, her family, the island she lives on, and ultimately herself.

Wary of the consequences of following through on her fantasies, Mayumi hesitates at first. But she cannot keep the young man from her thoughts. After a summer of overlong glances and nervous chitchat in the library, she finally accepts that their connection is undeniable. In a sprawling house emptied of its summer vacationers, their affair is consummated and soon consolidated thanks to an explosive charge of erotic energy. Mayumi’s life is radically enriched by the few hours each week that she shares with the young man, and as their bond grows stronger thanks not only to their physical closeness but also to their long talks about the books they both love, those hours spent apart seem to Mayumi increasingly bleak and intolerable. As her obsession worsens, in a frantic attempt to become closer to the young man, Mayumi nervously befriends another librarian patron, the young man’s mother. The two women forge a tenuous friendship that will prove vital to both in the most unexpected ways when catastrophe strikes.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 26th 2015 by Europa Editions 
Genre: Fiction
Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.**

I really, really struggled with this book. I had many issues with it but the biggest was the relationship between Mayumi and a teenaged boy. It did nothing for me. In fact, it kind of made my stomach turn. There seemed to be no moral dilemma for her even though she was married, had a daughter, and he was more than 20 years her junior. Not to mention that she flaunted her attraction to him by giving him "special" status amongst her librarian friends and coworkers. It was really quite disturbing.

The characters were quite flat. Boring doesn't even adequately describe how painfully dull they were. I felt no connection to them and just didn't care about them. This was most evident with Mayumi. There was nothing exciting or likeable about her at any time. I found her to be pretentious and creepy yet monotonous and sleep inducing at the same time. There were so many things that were wrong with that woman and her thoughts that I could fill a ton of pages on that alone but I won't. You get the idea.

I felt that the story was slightly over written but disliked the plot and characters so much that I feel it may have impacted my thoughts on it. Other than feeling nauseated over the whole relationship, the plot was as painfully dull as the characters.

It is obvious that this book was not my cup of tea so I will keep my thoughts short. Reviews are all over the map on this one so I encourage you to form your own opinion


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