The first half of this book is told from the point of view of Kiwako, an office worker who kidnaps the baby of her married lover after being pressured into having an abortion herself. She passes through love hotels, bullet trains and ferries; she encounters crazy people and joins a religious cult; she cleans floors, takes care of the child, and evades police. It’s hard to believe that tabloid fare such as this could be boring, but it is.

Kiwako is completely flat and affectless, neither torn by regret nor fueled by a particular love. She wants to keep this baby, she tells herself over and over, but it seems more like a verbal tic than a passion born of any kind of deep maternal instinct. Because this part of the story is told through the eyes of a woman who is obviously fairly mentally ungrounded, I thought that perhaps the hazy tone — like a movie seen through gauze — was a literary device. Unfortunately, when the story switches to the voice of the child, all grown up 18 years later, the tale continues in the same monotone.

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