SO CAN YOU, by Mitsuyo Ohira. Translated by John Brennan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000, 223 pp., 1,300 yen

As it turned out, “So Can You” is the heartrending autobiography of a junior high school girl who survived a nightmare of cruelty and betrayal at the hands of her classmates. Mitsuyo Ohira, former junior high school dropout, juvenile delinquent, yakuza (gangster) wife, divorcee and bar hostess, walked away from her past to become a lawyer — and in a country where it is notoriously difficult to do either of these things.

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