If you’re in need of a dose of hope – and let’s face it, who isn’t right now? – then pick up a copy of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, by Laura Imai Messina. As soon as I started reading the first page, I knew that this was a book I needed to read now, a story I could drink in.
The novel is inspired by a real garden on a remote mountainside in Japan, where a man and his wife installed a disconnected phone box where people could talk to their lost loved ones. There we meet Yui, who lost her mother and daughter in the 2011 Tsunami, and Takeshi, who lost his wife to a tumour, and others, too, whose stories are tragic and painful but which also throb with hope and life.
Despite its subject matter, it’s not a heavy book to read – I read it in the space of two days. The author writes with a love of life and shows that it is utterly possible to live with both pain and joy at the same time and that even in the face of loss, there is hope.
This book makes me want to write. It makes me want to reach out in friendship to others. It makes me want to live with tenacity, joy and love. It makes me want to pick it up and read it again, right away.
It has taken its place among my very favourite books.