When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain. Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief.
Rand’s translation is fluent and seamless; she captures the lyricism and meditative quality of the writing with care, a feat made more impressive given that there’s also a distinct Japanese sensibility ... powerful and moving, thoughtful and evocative. Messina writes with both clarity and restraint, with the ability to reveal much in a single, compressed paragraph ... Messina deals both with the profound questions as well as the, perhaps, more practical moments ... Longer chapters are punctuated by shorter ones, some written as list, others as fragments, a single word, or an in-depth look and what had otherwise seemed like a secondary observation. These ultimately add to the experience: revealing a relationship through quieter moments, serving as a break in the tension or offering a different lens to reflect upon the previous chapter ... There is a stillness and quietness to the book that makes each movement all the more meaningful. The words carry a weight that makes each sentence feel intentional; there’s no fat to trim. Moving and heart-breaking, Yui’s story—and that of the Wind Phone—is equally uplifting and heart-warming.
... [an] astonishment. And while Imai Messina’s quiet, contemplative, and gripping tale is fiction, the story ultimately has its feet – and its heart – planted firmly in reality ... Imai Messina’s story – musing on grief, hope, and joy – comes, then, at the perfect moment ... Imai Messina unfolds how Yui and Takeshi form a friendship of shared experience – and then navigate the trickier shoals of a deeper relationship – in lyrical, unrushed prose that avoids sentimentality ... These brief segments add rich detail to the novel without slowing down the storytelling ... Such characters, and such a setting, risk tipping the tale into a depressing bog. Yet Imai Messina, like her story’s powerful wind, pushes these individuals forward. They question, they consider, and they take fresh steps.
... moving ... Thoughtful and tender, full of small daily moments and acts of kindness, Messina's novel is a testament to the power of community (and a bit of whimsy) in moving forward after loss ... Messina's portrayal of the storm and its aftermath is matter of fact and unstinting; she lays out the broad outlines of the tragedy without trying to explain or make sense of it ... Messina intersperses her spare, lyrical narrative with tiny chapters formed mostly of lists...These lists of quotidian details offer flashes of normalcy (and sometimes humor) amid the larger narrative of life-altering grief with which the characters are grappling ... Though Messina's narrative is mainly focused on Yui and Takeshi, she draws thoughtful, nuanced portraits of several secondary characters ... The wind phone is perhaps an unusual response to grief, but both in the novel and in real life, it provides a place for grieving people to have necessary conversations, to acknowledge their sadness and other complicated emotions, and--perhaps--to let their grief lift and float out over the sea.