I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino, Neil Gaiman, Bruno Navasky
Genres: Classic, Contemporary, Middle Grade
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on October 26, 2021
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Also by this author: The Graveyard Book
Anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book, in English for the first time.
First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film.
How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.
This first-ever English-language translation of a Japanese classic about finding one’s place in a world both infinitely large and unimaginably small is perfect for readers of philosophical fiction like The Alchemist and The Little Prince, as well as Miyazaki fans eager to understand one of his most important influences.
The first English translation of the classic Japanese novel, a childhood favorite of anime master Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle), with an introduction by Neil Gaiman.
Here is what I thought
How Do You Live is a very different read that what I would normally read, but I was curious. Though there was parts of it I wasn’t a fan of I am still glad that I read it.
How Do You Live is a coming of age story about four boys and their lives during the 1930’s in Japan. It’s told in two different narratives. One is Copper, a young boy who father is dead and the other his Uncle who writes in a journal things that he wants to tell Copper.
My favorite parts was the partst that was about Copper and his friends and how things go with them as they go to school, learn new things and have fun with each other. It’s during some of these times that Copper learns certain things that he tells his uncle and his uncle then writes down things in the journal in hopes of shaping the young mans life. One thing that Copper’s father ask him to do before he died was to make sure he became a good man. It was interesting reading about the boys and especially how Copper seen things. There is even a time where thier is a betrayal in the friendship and I liked seeing how it was settled.
The Uncle’s journal though was a bit to wordy for me and sometimes it was pages and pages and I often thought that this book was a sneaky way of making the Japanese child learn thier lessons while thinking they were reading a book. It at times was a bit to philosophical for me as we learned about Newtwon’s theories, Napoleon, and other life lessons. It was most of these parts that sort of made my eyes glaze over as they were very long parts.
I am glad that I gave it a go and I can see others enjoying this a bit more than I did, as it wasn’t bad it was just not what I am use too and I think it is great that it has now been translated into English so that more people can read this Japanese classic.