Rio arrives in Japan in time for her father's service, reuniting with her old English teacher, Miss Danny. Looking for answers and closure, Rio feels drawn to her old teacher, and though their reunion is both awkward and sweet, Rio begins to get the answers she seeks. When she hears of Miss Danny's upcoming temple pilgrimage, Rio decides to extend her trip and accompany her.
What I liked:
- Miss Danny: I know that Miss Danny is definitely not a fully innocent character, and at times her treatment of Rio is very unfriendly, but I can't help but like her. I think their reunion is very realistic, and you can tell that they both bounce back and forth between that affection that comes from a favorite teacher/student and awkwardness as they leave unsaid the episode that lays between them. Though Rio's insistence on accompanying Miss Danny on the pilgrimage made even me uncomfortable, I thought it was heartwarming that Miss Danny falls back so easily to being Rio's defender, especially to En, the shopkeeper who addresses Rio as hafu. The reveal of Danny as both Rio's savior from Tomoya Yu and the cause for her further torment is bittersweet, and when we end our reading this week with the flashback to Miss Danny's treatment of Rio before and after her mother's suicide it's heartbreaking. Nonetheless, I'm drawn to Miss Danny as a character and am excited to see more of their reunion. (Plus I mean shes making this pilgrimage because she believes women's voices are important and that's pretty awesome)
- The Mystery Story: Okay so on page 66 there is a summary of a short story that Rio read in school. I totally remember this story from somewhere and I love it but I can't remember the name. Bonus points to anyone who can find that story 😂
- Lily's origins: we find out the origins of Lily's name on page 104, and it's easily one of my favorite parts from this reading; "'I almost had my daughter in the woods'...I was out on a trail walking our dog when my water broke...'We'd been throwing around names. For a girl, we both liked Sadie, Madeline, and Lily. So I'm standing there, dripping, freaking out. I look up and the first thing I see is a patch of corn lilies. I knew then it would be a girl, and it was," (104). Rio doesn't seem truly connected and in sync with much in her life but I felt like this really strengthens how the readers see her relationship with her daughter.
- The Pilgrimage: I love the idea of the pilgrimage. If it's a real thing I would totally consider doing this at some point in my life, especially because I've been planning more hiking/camping trips recently. I'm interested to read more about it.
Things I Didn't Like:
- Sal: one of the reviews I read originally that complained about how Rio wasn't relatable enough cited her treatment of Sal as the reason. The reviewer mentioned that Sal was the perfect husband and the reader couldn't stand how Rio treated him. I started off really liking Sal, but in this week's reading I started to like him less. He's just kind of a shallow character, and he seems very resistant to the idea that Rio could have a private life of her own. His "same thing" comment struck me as very insensitive and shallow and the way he brings up the new living community was very passive aggressive. When Rio reflects afterward on how he thinks she's the type of girl who would like living in the rich suburb and who can't enjoy time by herself it's very disappointing because it seems like Sal is limiting her to this role. At the same time, I think part of this is due to the side of herself that Rio has shown him, and they might not be having these issues if she was a bit more honest and open.
- Facebook is for kids? Uhm, since when? I have never felt so personally attacked (by a fictional 12 year old no less) in my life
- En: I can not have been the only one who thought the shop keeper was a twat. I was really hoping that Rio would just say something already. Alas, she is a more composed person than I.
- Tomoya Yu: of course he's kind of the antagonist in this book so who isn't going to hate him, but man the more we hear about him the more I'm thinking he's gonna deserve what's coming to him (I'm betting it was self defense anyways). I loved the scene where he had to give Rio his shirt to clean the snot on her arm with. That was great. Also, we talked last time about elements that Rio isn't able to control in her life, and I think it's interesting that on page 100, Rio likens Tomoya's arrival to an uncontrollable force of nature.
Quote of the Week
"In the midst of running these long distances I sometimes wondered if this was what my father felt when he played, what my mom felt when she painted. Maybe I wasn't completely uninspired. Running was my art. I, pumping through a hill, was a solo violinist, and I played surrounded by an orchestra of trees. It was a silly thought- I never told anyone about it- but I liked thinking it," (82).
- Miss Danny's behavior towards Rio changes often, with a lot seeming to be left unsaid. What do you think is going through her head? What are her thoughts and motives?
- We have seen a lot about racism and sexism both in Japanese culture and in American culture. How are they similar? How are they different?