Reviewed on 1st March 2021

The Phonebox at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

Genre: Contemporary / Fiction
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The Phonebox at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina Synopsis

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

On a windy hill in Japan, in a garden overlooking the sea stands a disused phone box. For years, people have travelled to visit the phone box, to pick up the receiver and speak into the wind: to pass their messages to loved ones no longer with us.

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she is plunged into despair and wonders how she will ever carry on. One day she hears of the phone box, and decides to make her own pilgrimage there, to speak once more to the people she loved the most. But when you have lost everything, the right words can be the hardest thing to find . . .

Then she meets Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss. What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking…

The Phonebox at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina Review

A Powerful, Moving, and Reaffirming Read

I knew what I was getting into when I picked up this book. I knew that I would cry, I knew it would make me confront grief, and I guessed it would make me incredibly emotional; I expected it to be a difficult read.

I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

It was an incredibly emotional and powerful read, but it was so much softer and endearing than I was expecting. Before I explain why, take a look at the blurb below.

Blurb:
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .
On a windy hill in Japan, in a garden overlooking the sea stands a disused phone box. For years, people have travelled to visit the phone box, to pick up the receiver and speak into the wind: to pass their messages to loved ones no longer with us.
When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she is plunged into despair and wonders how she will ever carry on. One day she hears of the phone box, and decides to make her own pilgrimage there, to speak once more to the people she loved the most. But when you have lost everything, the right words can be the hardest thing to find . . .
Then she meets Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss. What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking…

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The Phonebox at the Edge of the World is one of the most beautifully written and most delicately expressed books I have read in a long time. Reading about grief is always going to be confronting, and when you open the pages, knowing that this story is going to delve into characters’ minds in the aftermath of such a tragedy, you prepare yourself with tissues, chocolate, and a blanket. But instead of crying my eyes out as I turned the pages, I found myself totally entranced by the beautiful language, the breathtaking descriptions of Japan, and I was so easily swept up in a truly beautiful story of hope and rebuilding life after tradgedy.

The subtlety of the story is so very well constructed that turning the pages feels effortless and diving into the characters feels like getting to know a knew and beautiful friend. Messina is an established author with four other books written in Italian, but this is the first of her work that I have written and I was left entranced.

It’s impossible not to be drawn in my the premise of this book. So many of us have lost people we love, especially over the last year with the awful Covid pandemic, so the thought that there is somewhere in the world where people gather to pick up the phone and talk to loved ones on the otherside is such a powerful thought. How many of us have raised our eyes to the skies to speak to those we miss? I know I have. Many times.

I will not deny, a few tears were shed. The first half of this book finds us following Yui, living in a school gym, in the aftermath of the tsunami. This section of the book broke my heart into a million pieces. The overwhelming feeling of grief washes over you. But the rest of the book took that broken heart and mended it with love and hope.

The Phonebox at the Edge of the World teaches us that grief is a journey, one that we will all inevitably travel at some point and certainly one that we will all tackle in our own unique ways but one thing knits us together.

As we move from page to page, we move past grief, and discover that to recover from loss, we need love, friendship and kindness.

The Phonebox at the Edge of the World is unlike any other book I have read, and one that will live on in my heart for a very long time. Certainly one that I will think about each and every time I think about those I have lost.

I admire Messina for her bravery in tackling this subject, doth my cap to her delicate touch and incredible use of language and urge you all, to pick up a copy. You will certainly not be disappointed.

Many Thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers and Zaffre Books for inviting us on this Blog Tour.

The Long, Long Afternoon is published by: Zaffre Books
ISBN: 978-178658-039-9

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