Puddle Child
Author: Makura Abukawa
Specifications: ISBN  978-4591155288
288 pages
12.8 x 18.8 cm / 5.1 x 7.5 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 2017
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


When his only friend Miwa moves away, eighth-grader Kōtarō Mizuno begins spending the noon hour at school by himself on what he calls “the cottage”—the landing of the stairway that leads to the roof. One day in July, with summer vacation nearing, he is at the cottage as usual when he hears the sound of a huge splash up on the roof. The door to the roof is usually kept locked, but on this day it opens easily. Kotarō steps out onto the roof to discover an astonishingly large pool of water, and in it is a girl doing the butterfly stroke. As he watches agape, she climbs gracefully out of the pool to stand before him. It is Mizuhara, the prettiest girl in school and the best swimmer on the swim team. She explains that immersing yourself in this pool of water is called “puddling,” and that if you wish really hard for something while you’re puddling, you can change just one thing in the world. Though he’s not sure whether to believe this, Mizuno dives into the water at her urging—and discovers that the world really does change. It’s a trivial thing, but he wishes for pay phones to give change for the unused time on a call, and his wish comes true. There are just eight days left before summer vacation, when the school will move into a new building and this old building is slated to be demolished, and for those eight days, Mizuno joins in the puddling.

As he puddles with Mizuhara day after day, Mizuno learns that her objective in puddling is to save Miwa’s mother, who died in a traffic accident. He realizes at the same time that Mizuhara has herself died once, and is in fact a “puddle child” who has been reborn through puddling. He also finds out that even though puddling can save some people, it harms others. More precisely, while puddling can bring into existence things that never were, it can also cause things that exist to be no more. Which is to say, the person who puddles moves into a parallel world. It also means that if puddling is no more, there is a genuine possibility that the puddle-born Mizuhara will disappear. Even so, Mizuno determines to go ahead with making it so the puddling that has harmed so many people never was. Before going through with it, he confesses his love to Mizuhara. She responds that she is sorry, but her heart belongs to Miwa. Then, when they puddle together for the last time, they make the pool of water disappear. Afterward, Mizuhara is gone, just as Mizuno had feared. Now living in a world without her, he feels a tremendous sense of loss. But as time goes by, he comes to understand Mizuhara’s true purpose, and resolves to adopt a more positive attitude toward life.

The cynical youth who exerted no effort to make friends at school, had never fallen in love, showed little enthusiasm for his studies or after-school activity groups, and generally refused to be impressed by anything, undergoes a gradual transformation after he discovers puddling. Along the way, a mystery from the school’s past is solved, and there are numerous dramatic and unexpected plot twists that will have readers wanting to read the story all over again to double-check how everything fits together. It is a heartbreakingly evocative novel of youth—a new masterpiece of the genre.