At first I didn't know what to make of this story. This story revolves around the lives of two young women, Maria and Tsugumi whom are cousins. It opens as Maria is beginning her life in Tokyo away from her cousin whom she had lived with for most of her life. She returns to the shore town for one last hurrah as the family inn will be shut down to make way for a new hotel. Tsugumi is a rude, spoiled girl who has suffered with infirmity all her life.
At first, you are set up to hate her, you can't help it. However, as the story goes, you seem to reluctantly understand it though not necessarily feel sorry for her or excuse her behavior. I still find her to be intolerably narcissistic despite her circumstances. And that is perhaps the haunting quality of this novel -- you come do a deeper understand but not necessarily a resolution.
There are qualities of this narrative that reminds me of Margaret Atwood's work. Our main character, the narrator - Maria, is neither high-strung or overly emotion. She's not the dynamic character or the traditional follower but the even-keel that the seemingly strong character needs. We even have the third female character, Yoko but her role is so minute that she's really an ancillary female character. We do have the male character who brings out the best and worst in Tsugumi. He also appears to understand her at the same level as Maria. And his role is rather interesting.
With that all said, I liked the story and the character development. They were intriguing and haunting at points. I really enjoyed the contradictory feelings it elicited from me.