Cloud Girl
Author: Hitomi Kanehara
Specifications: ISBN  978-4022514448
206 pages
13.5 x 19.5 cm / 5.4 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.
Tokyo, 2017
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Two young sisters with sharply contrasting personalities take turns telling of their anchorless life in Tokyo following the death of their mother, who had received custody of them when she and their father divorced.

Sixteen-year-old An is in the tenth grade. She is an alabaster beauty with the perfect features of a doll. Her boyfriend Haruo, 17, lives alone, and An spends as much of her time as she can at his house, drinking, dancing, and having sex, rarely going to school. She lives by her whims, thinking only of the moment. Her 20-year-old sister Riu is a college student. Serious and reserved, she doesn’t attract attention or show her emotions, always behaves sensibly, and is a late-bloomer when it comes to boyfriends.

The girls’ parents divorced six years ago and are both now dead. Their mother Yurika, an author, had no interest in housework or parenting and thought only of her writing. As the older sister, Riu was forced to fill the role of the mother, causing An to develop certain resentments, and the bad feelings between them have only grown worse since their mother’s death two years ago. On that day, the sisters found her in a pool of blood in her bedroom. She had slashed her throat with a razor blade. Yurika’s parents arrived the next day, swept the sisters away to their own home, and announced to everyone else that Yurika had died of a heart attack. An has remained deeply troubled by her mother’s suicide, as well as by her grandparents’ dissembling the cause of death. Riu, meanwhile, refuses to even acknowledge that her mother killed herself. The sisters now live in the Tokyo condo of Yurika’s parents, who are their legal guardians.

One day An goes missing after a major blowup with her boyfriend over his repeated cheating. Three days later Riu returns home to find An in bed with Hirooka, Riu’s hairdresser, who is a married man. It is a devastating shock to her, and the rift between the sisters now appears to be utterly beyond repair. Riu spurns An’s pleads for a reconciliation. So An reveals that she knows Riu has been pretending she can still talk to their father on her computer in the depths of night—in spite of the fact that he was diagnosed with cancer a year after the divorce and died even before their mother. She demands to know why Riu refuses to acknowledge their father’s death even after all this time.

What emerges is a portrait of two sisters who are constantly at odds, yet have gained a deep understanding of each another through the shared experience of their parents’ deaths.