Title: What’s Left Of Me Is Yours
Author: Stephanie Scott
Publication Date: 21st April 2020
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.
When Sato hires Kaitaro, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Sato has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitaro’s job is to do exactly that – until he does it too well.
While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitaro fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter Sumiko’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, What’s Left of Me Is Yours explores the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
This is honestly such a special book. It follows Sumiko as she tries to uncover what happened to her mother when Sumiko was a child. We get Sumiko’s perspective as she goes on this journey and we also get Rina and her lover, Kaitaro’s, viewpoint from the past. I was instantly intrigued by the concept of an industry of marriage ‘breaker-upppers’ and by the mystery and crime aspects of the story but What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is not simply one thing. This is a story about love, loss, obsession, passion and violence.
The first thing I have to say is how beautifully written What’s Left of Me is Yours is. The prose is incredibly elegant and lyrical and I was completely swept up in the language and imagery. The importance of the words we choose and what they mean is a recurring and captivating theme in the book. I found the explanation of how names are chosen in Japan so interesting and loved finding out about many aspects of Japanese culture and tradition. Scott writes about Japan and her characters in such an evocative manner, it is impossible not be immersed in their story. The intricacies and mechanisms of the Japanese legal system are particularly fascinating.
What’s Left of Me is Yours is dark at times, it examines the more dangerous aspects of an intense love between two people and how that kind of love can be limitless and cause people to act recklessly and violently. However, there is also a great deal of hope and beauty to be found, especially in the relationship between Sumiko and her mother. The bond between mother and child is sensitively portrayed and totally heartbreaking at times. Both Rina and Sumiko are strong and determined women in different ways who possess so much integrity. I found both of them consistently compelling and whilst there is so much else that happens in this fantastic book, it is the unbreakable connection between them that has really stuck with me since I finished reading. What’s Left of Me is Yours is a stunning and confident debut that I wholeheartedly recommend!
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.