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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

Convenience Store Woman

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Warning - This Review Contains Spoilers - Spoilers Section Will Be Warned Ahead Of Time

Rating - ⭐⭐


"Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life. In the store, unlike anywhere else, she understands the rules of social interaction ― many are laid out line by line in the store’s manual ― and she does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently, more or less.


Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action."


 

Convenience Store Woman is a standalone fiction novel by Sayaka Murata and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.


Oh my, this was...this sure was something. And that something was not for me. While in some way I'm sure that I could have been charmed by the repetitive daily life of Keiko, I found myself rather distracted by the questionable decisions of the characters which are described in the spoiler section below.


Overall, while the writing style worked for me and some minor aspects of the plot were kind of interesting, but that was about all that did work. Everything else was just...not it. If you don't want any spoilers, then you can stop reading here.


Spoilers Ahead

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The mood of the book was set for when Keiko's response to her sister's baby crying, was to look at a knife and think to herself, 'hmm, that would be an easy way to quiet that baby.' Now, I understand that this book heavily discusses, or tries to, mental health and disabilities, but I don't know if that was the right direction to take if you're trying to sympathize with a character whose family keeps trying to 'cure' her (another issue I had with the book).


The questionable decisions keep on rolling with the entrance of who is appropriately dub the misogynistic stalker guy. He was there mostly in order for Keiko to progress as a character, but boy was he horrible. First of all, he gets a job at the convenience store just to scope out potential brides. If he finds one, he proceeds to hone in on them by means of stalking (I'm talking about invading store policy by taking a coworker's phone number and harassing them). He gets fired, understandably, by when Keiko finds him lurking outside the store, she proceeds to invite him to stay with her. If that doesn't scream bad decisions, it gets worse. After having been living together for a bit with constant commentary on misogynistic stalker's part about women and marriage, Keiok's response to his lack of possible brides, she offers to marry him instead.


Keiko's decisions in the book just make you sit there squinting because of how inconceivable they are. Again, I understand that Keiko's brain processes things differently, but because of that in no way can I understand the decisions she makes.




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