A bittersweet, slice of life book by tiamatq [WorldCat.org]
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by Inio Asano

  Print book : Fiction  |  VIZ Signature Edition

A bittersweet, slice of life book   (2010-09-16)

Very Good

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by tiamatq

I kind of didn't know what to think of Solanin when I started reading it. I had seen the great reviews and that it was highly recommended, but I kept putting off reading it.  When I did start, it was hard to connect with the characters.  It seemed odd, because here are people asking the same questions I've asked myself so many times, and even still ask myself.  Or I think about these questions for the people in my life - are they happy?  Is this what life is about?  Will I be doing this job for the rest of my life?  Is this what it means to be an adult?  Is there something more? 

So I'm not sure why it took me so long to click with these characters!  Perhaps its because we don't know much about them until much further into the book - we just know their circumstances.  Meiko is working in an office building and she hates her job.  She's been out of college for awhile and is the "responsible" one in her relationship - her boyfriend Taneda works part-time as a graphic designer and talks about getting his band going full-time again, but he's pretty aimless.  Or so it seems.  They have the same group of friends from college, who also happen to be in Taneda's band, and they're all wondering about their place in life.  Meiko surprises herself and her friends when she suddenly quits her job and decides to spend a year being free, hoping to discover something that sparks her passion.  Quitting her job sets a series of events in motion, forcing each of the group to ask themselves about what's important to them and what are they willing to sacrifice to keep that thing going. 

I don't know if I'm being very clear in my description... this book is about living.  It's about choosing what to do with your life and following through.  And it's about friendship.  I really liked how Meiko's mother tells her and Taneda that life isn't always about taking the difficult path - that happiness is actually easier to find than you think.  Once you get to know these characters, to understand them, you can really get immersed in the story.  As the author explains, these aren't larger-than-life characters; they're meant to be real people that can easily fade into the background.  And what happens to them is beautiful and sad and wonderful. 

On a quick note, the artwork here is amazing.  It's filled with detail but also simple.  And the moments where the band is playing really evoke the passion and power you can feel when you're creating something.  Towards the end of the book there's a performance and the way that the lighting works and the characters move and drip with sweat... it just shows the passion that they're seeking in life.

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