Author: Mieko Kawakami
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 10th June 2021
In Heaven, a fourteen-year old boy is tormented for having a lazy eye. Instead of resisting, he chooses to suffer in silence. The only person who understands what he is going through is a female classmate, Kojima, who experiences similar treatment at the hands of her bullies. Providing each other with immeasurable consolation at a time in their lives when they need it most, the two young friends grow closer than ever. But what, ultimately, is the nature of a friendship when your shared bond is terror?
Heaven is a slim but powerful piece of translated fiction about bullying. The story follows a 14 year old boy whom we only know as ‘eyes’, the cruel nickname assigned to him due to his lazy eye. He withstands the bullying by suffering in silence until a fellow classmate who is similarly bullied, Kojima, decides they should be friends.
This is a deceptively simple book written with clarity and conciseness which manages to delve deep into teenage psychology. Through the experience of Eyes and Kojima (a fantastically unusual and complex character) the reader witnesses the casual cruelty and indiscriminate violence that appears to exist in the high school environment. Heaven also addresses the question of why bullying happens in a truly chilling but incredibly revelatory exchange between Eyes and one of his tormentors. This is not an easy read, in the sense that it has the horrible brutality of bullying at its core but it is also a weirdly beautiful book about humanity and the way violence permeates society. A thought provoking, raw and poignant read which I would absolutely recommend.
I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.