Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight

Bitter Lemon. Jul. 2022. 286p. tr. from Japanese by Alison Watts. ISBN 9781913394592. pap. $15.95. SUSPENSE
Onda’s second novel to be translated into English (following her critically acclaimed The Aosawa Murders) is a psychological thriller about a young couple, Aki and Hiro, who are about to end their troubled relationship. The two fell in love during college and were convinced that they were brother and sister who’d been separated when Aki was adopted as a child. They went on a wilderness trek in the hopes of meeting their estranged father, their guide on the trek. His unexplained death begins to unravel their relationship. In their last night together, the hope is to get the other person to confess to murder on the trek. A psychological battle ensues, with Hiro and Aki alternating their versions of events. As they trace their steps into the past, it takes their collective memories to see that maybe it wasn’t murder. In the hour before sunrise, they contemplate suicide and their lives moving forward. The story delves into the mysteries of romantic love, memory, and the secrets kept in relationships.
VERDICT This complex novel focuses on the raw emotionality of young love, with a darker “he said/she said” plot. A must-read for fans of domestic suspense.
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