I have an extremely thought-provoking book for you today, courtesy of Miriam Drori and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you both for enabling me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.
Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…
Confession time – this is possibly one of the hardest reviews that I have had to write, as this book left me with seriously conflicting emotions. It is also incredibly hard to explain this without giving away the ending, which I really don’t want to do, so please bear with me a little bit on this one.
Not knowing what a fuji is, the title of this book made little sense to me at first, so I was pleased to see an explanation of just what a fuji is right at the start of the book. If you are wondering, a fuji is a Japanese dessert apple of a variety with a crisp, sweet flesh and an orange flush to the skin. Even knowing this, I had to read the whole book before that eureka moment when the title suddenly makes sense. I must admit I get a great sense of satisfaction when that moment hits.
We first meet Martin, our main character, in a care home as he reflects back on a life with crippling social anxiety. My heart went out to him, as someone who clearly has a brilliant mind, but will always be over-looked or laughed at because his lack of communication skills and social niceties. The treatment he suffered at school broke my heart, as did the attempts made by colleagues to draw him out, which really came to late in life for Martin to be able to respond to them.
Although I enjoyed reading about Martin’s trip to Japan, and it was wonderful to see how the formalities of Japanese culture gave Martin the freedom to discover his true character, I found the pointed spelling of how the Japanese characters mispronounced English words a little uncomfortable. After all, how many of us can speak Japanese fluently and without an accent? That said, I can understand why the author chose to write in this way, as we were viewing the visit through Martin’s eyes and this would be something he would fixate on.
Even when I wasn’t reading the book I found I was thinking about it and counting down to when I could pick it up again. This is unusual for me with a book that isn’t full of fast-paced action but I found that Martin really got under my skin and touched my soul. As someone with a few social anxieties of my own, this book gave me hope that it was possible to overcome anything if you really put your mind to it. I think it was the fact that Martin’s story affected me so deeply that made the ending something of a struggle for me and left me feeling a little disconcerted by it all.
Despite my misgivings about the ending, I still think this is an extremely important book for helping people gain an understanding of social anxiety, and just how deeply it can affect the entire lives of sufferers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction. NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (currently unavailable), a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. THE WOMEN FRIENDS, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. CULTIVATING A FUJI takes the social anxiety theme into fiction, using humour to season a poignant story.
Win copies of Neither Here No There and Social Anxiety Revealed (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
As always, don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour.