Review: Sputnik Sweetheart


“In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life. An intense love, a veritable tornado sweeping across the plains–flattening everything in its path, tossing things up in the air, ripping them to shreds, crushing them to bits.

The genius of Haruki Murakami’s eloquently unique prose has astounded me yet again with the beautifully refined title, Sputnik Sweetheart. As I opened the book and read the first couple of sentences of the first chapter, I knew that I would be wholly consumed within the pages until I reached its finale.

Sputnik Sweethearts is about a young girl, Sumire, and her long-time best friend who’s revealed only as “K.” They have an uncensored friendship, where they discuss many things and topics, ranging from personal experiences to simple banter. Then Sumire falls in love and the world as she knows it begins to change and shift in ways that she never could have imagined.

At it’s front the story appears to be rather straightforward, and to be perfectly frank, it is rather upfront with its intentions and events that shall come to pass. Yet, Murakami is able to brilliantly incorporate the right amount of surrealistic details necessary to make the story unsettling, haunting even. A mere tale about love and longing transitions into a magical narrative about loneliness and lost self-identities. On the front page, Sputnik Sweetheart indicates the loneliness that comes with unrequited love, however. The further you get into the book, the more you come to realize that there is a vast amount of depth to those emotions. Beneath the candid sentences, is an examination of what it truly means to be in love–the sexual desire that stems from emotional longing is a perfect example of this. The psychological symbolism is breathtaking.

The cognitive metaphors expressing the profound affects of love, and the abject ache that love brings, were written with piercingly realistic details. The atmospheres present in local coffee shops, or pedestrian phone booths are depicted with the perfect blend of sensory information. As a reader, you could feel yourself standing there beside Sumire, or “K,” and feeling every emotion, every thought that they experienced. This seemingly elementary approach works exceptionally well with the flowy fantastical elements that sprout later on in the book.

Everything about this novel was stunning, yet oh-so-very basal on the surface. Literature that can show you a myriad of perspectives while maintaining an air of vague, minimalist details are some of my favorite types of readings. Sputnik Sweetheart is definitely going straight into my favorites box. I think it would be the perfect rainy-day book; four and a half dreams out of five.

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