Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie (Author)
A coming of age story dedicated to young women, this is a sweeping tale of a lady’s heart searching for acceptance in Japan post World War II. Set in Kyoto, 1948, the little Noriko Kamiza is taught by the elderly in her house to “know how to be silient, even if you know nothing else… Refrain from fighting, from resisting, from questioning.” She was also told that the tanned color of her skin is shameful as she is subjected to a chemical bath. She would not fight as the door to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate is locked shut with her inside. She would also not question why her mother left her behind with only these cruel words as her heritage.
Nori is the illiegitimate child from a fling between a Japanese aristocrat and a Western father. Her grandparents bitterly hies her inside their house to conceal the stain on their royal pedigre – to which they hold on so ever tight as Japan is in an uncertain time. Like many other kids in the same circumstances, Nori obediently accpets her solitary life, put away her curiosity for the outside world and snarky intelligence. Things change the day her half-brother Akira gets to inherit the estate.
The man allows Nori to see the world for what it is, bringing her to the knowledge that there is a place for her in the universe after all. The new found bravery leads our heroine to fight a battle against not only her grandparents, but also the whole oppressive society that bound her.
Fifty words for Rain is a story that spans through tens of years and many continents, readers learn from it about ties: the ones that give you strength, the ones that bind you, and the ones that are meant to be broken.
Asha Lemmie was born in Virginia and raised in Maryland. She attended school in Washington DC, where she was fortunate to be exposed to a wide variety of cultural influences. She developed a passionate interest in reading at the age of two, and has been writing stories since the age of five. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she relocated to New York City where she worked in book publishing. She’s still hoping to make some kind of Thirty Under Thirty list to soothe her millennial angst, but would settle for an honorable mention or a lifetime supply of free books. Outside of writing, she enjoys reading about history, learning languages, watching cartoons of all kinds, listening to classical music, the performing arts and cat wrangling. Fifty Words for Rain is her first novel.
Praise for Asha Lemmie and Fifty Words for Rain
“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
"Fifty Words for Rain is a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together. This coming of age tale about a biracial girl in postwar Japan is an assured, confident debut by a talented new author." —Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
“A hugely compelling debut about Noriko, a mixed race girl growing up in Japan after WWII. Moving and honest and at times intense, Asha Lemmie takes us on an emotional journey that spans years, one which sheds light on Noriko's family traditions, prejudices, struggles, triumphs and ultimate transformation. This is a well-researched and eye-opening tale, told with compassion that breathes through each page.” —Abi Daré, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl with the Louding Voice
“[An] epic, twisty debut… Sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, Lemmie’s heartbreaking story of familial obligations packs an emotional wallop.” —Publishers Weekly
“Lemmie’s debut novel is a gripping historical tale that will transport readers through myriad emotions… Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko’s complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut.” —Booklist
“Lemmie’s sweeping historical backdrop, from the post–World War II decline of minor royalty through the expanding liberations of the 1960s, is breathtaking…. A bold historical portrait of a woman overcoming oppression…” —Kirkus
"This is a debut you won’t want to miss." —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review
"This virtuosic debut enthralled me from the very first page. Lemmie’s compelling and compassionate portrait of a young girl in post-WWII Japan is meticulously researched and beautifully crafted. What a heartbreaking, exceptional story by a sublime talent—I can’t wait to see what she does next!" —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
"Fifty Words for Rain is an impressive debut novel about a mixed-race girl growing up in post WWII Japan. Sensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity, Asha Lemmie tells a story that we have not heard before with an ending that is as surprising as it is brutally honest." —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
“Asha Lemmie’s debut novel Fifty Words for Rain follows eight-year-old Nori after she is abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself in the unkind graces of a family built on tradition and power. Lemmie has penned an impassioned story that confronts the uncomfortable truths behind institutionalized prejudice and the history of violence and subjugation of the powerless by those on the highest rungs of society. It’s an emotional journey with an unexpected ending.” —Mary Lynn Bracht, author of White Chrysanthemum
"From page one, I was rooting for Nori, the illegitimate daughter of a Japanese aristocrat and an African-American soldier. Shackled by family condemnation and the prejudices of post-WWII Japan, Nori must transform from docile young girl into fierce, unapologetic heroine. A wholly immersive coming-of-age epic from a talented young writer—Asha Lemmie pours her passion onto the page.” —Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here is Beautiful