Mizuki has a hardworking husband, two adorable children, and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It's everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether she would rather throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband and hanging up laundry. A novel about marriage, motherhood, love, self and the vibrant, surprising city that is modern Tokyo.
What initially seems like a negative view of marriage, commitment and fidelity becomes so much more in Itami’s skilled hands and piercing gaze. Fault Lines is full of laugh-out-loud, irreverent humor, as well as heartstoppingly poignant, yet seemingly incidental, wisdom. All of the inner yearnings and tribulations of Mizuki are laid bare, offering one of the fullest, most thorough depictions of a character I have ever read. Although the book is undeniably funny, it reads as if Itami has wrung out every possible meaning, perception and argument from every last word. Every line here is razor-sharp, chosen with precision, resulting in a deceptively clever, emotionally wise and truly heartbreaking novel.
What is the cost of a mother’s desire? In her debut novel, Fault Lines, Emily Itami explores this question with wit and poignancy ... Itami’s prose is distant, maybe inspired by the character’s remove from her own life ... Itami’s descriptions of spring in Japan are to be savored ... I was once told by an editor that the best stories offer an 'A' and a 'B' ending, but then delight a reader with a surprising but inevitable 'C.' Sadly, Itami’s novel ends with a dull option 'B.' I found myself wishing Mizuki could seek pleasure and adventure freely.
While some readers might be drawn in by the novel’s potential for blush-worthy bedroom scenes, the few that exist happen off page. Instead, what’s intriguing about Fault Lines is its shrewd commentary on Japan’s societal expectations of women as either sex objects or dutiful mothers.