Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Reviewed by Max

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The pain came quickly. It was the going that took longer. These are the thoughts that run through Noriko "Nori" Kamiza's mind as she received the daily bleach baths meant to lighten her skin. The daughter of a Japanese heiress and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider in her grandmother's house, a nuisance. That is, until her older half-brother Akira comes to live under their roof as the new heir to the family fortune, and Nori's once solitary life is slowly eclipsed by hope for a new future: a future in which she stands beside her brother not as an outcast, but as a rightful bearer of their family's name.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a hauntingly elegant epic about the bonds that connect family and the prejudices born from cultural expectation under the extreme pressures of war. Lemmie is unafraid not only to discuss difficult topics like child abuse and non-consensual relations, but also takes care to exemplify how such hardships can linger entire lifetimes and transcend generations. Although Fifty Words for Rain suffers the same pacing issues as most true epics, it shines as a startlingly bold debut for a lyrically gifted author.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars