Book Review | Hikikomori and the Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus

book cover Hikikomori and the Rental Sister by Jeff BackhausIncorporating Eastern and Western cultural elements, Backhaus’ well crafted breakout novel is an enjoyable and memorable read. Hikikomori and the Rental Sister relays the tale of withdrawn Thomas, his desperate wife Silke and the rental sister hired to be his friend, Megumi. Thomas has withdrawn from the outside world and imprisons himself in his locked bedroom for a crime he feels he committed. Silke continues to go to work and live in the apartment with Thomas though she has not seen his face in three years. At wit’s end she hires Megumi in a final attempt to coax Thomas out of his room and back into the world of the living. As an outsider, Megumi is able to connect with Thomas and an unexpected relationship grows between the two of them.

This book jumps right in without unnecessary background information. The story is immediately interesting as the reader is given a view into quite an unusual situation. Focus shifts between Thomas and Megumi providing for an important change of narrative scenery. Backhaus gives adequate description of the characters to bring them alive, but without bogging down the text with superfluous detail. The prose are tight and clear. I stumbled on this book accidentally at the library and picked it up because I’ve been waiting for Haruki Murakami’s newest book to be released in English this August. Fans of Murakami will appreciate the relationships that Backhaus develops here coupled with the desperation the various characters face. Check out Hikikomori and the Rental Sister from your local library.


About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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