Fifty Words for Rain
By Asha Lemmie
From debut author Asha Lemmie, “a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together.”—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”
Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.
The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.
Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free.
“Novels like Asha Lemmie’s debut allow me to experience the high of the endurance athlete—consumed by a far-flung odyssey, coming up only for a sip of water… I inhaled Fifty Words for Rain in one day. I had no choice.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Usually I take my time with books, but I found it very hard to step away from this story. Filled with mystery, music, sadness and adventures, Fifty Words for Rain flies by—yet lingers long after… Anyone who has ever lost a friend—or, more happily, found a family—will love this beautiful story.”—Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist