Amrita is not only a treat for fans of Banana Yoshimoto, but also simply a beautiful, addictive, magical novel that will surely brighten up a few evenings.
Contrary to what the publisher’s description on the cover may suggest, Amrita is not just a novel about tragedy with fantastic elements. Yes, as in other Banana books, the heroine has had difficult experiences: the suicide of her younger sister, the death of her father, an accident that caused brain damage and memory loss, but these events are not talked about with excessive sentimentality. More than misfortunes, the book focuses on the story of youth, growing up, love, travelling and, most of all, finding what makes us happy.
This is the best part of this novel – short, fleeting moments that the main character, Sakumi, talks about: a conversation with a friend in a cafe, a colorful sky, a walk with her brother, singing in a bar, waking up in a hotel room … Snippets from everyday life that are easy to dismiss as unimportant, when in fact they make up our whole life. Sakumi is more excited about the sunrise than the fact that ber hrother has telepathic abilities. Although the themes of magical realism appear all the time, there is not much of a fantastical atmosphere here: even the strangest events eventually become just elements of the daily rhythm.
Banana herself calls the book a bit naive in the afterword, but maybe that’s what makes it endearing, because sometimes everyone needs to be reminded of the lesson Sakumi gives to her brother: that the most important thing is to enjoy every moment, because if you hurry too much, you will miss the most beautiful things along the way moments of your lives.