My Broken Mariko Review

By | Wednesday, November 18, 2020 Leave a Comment
My Broken Mariko
On page one, while eating ramen by herself in a diner, Shiino learns from a news broadcast that her best friend Mariko just committed suicide. The story then follows Shiino for the next couple of days as she steals Mariko's ashes from her father and goes to Marigaoka Cape to scatter them. While that does adequately explain the basic plot of Waka Hirako's My Broken Mariko, it doesn't come close to explaining why it's an amazing story.

We learn more about Mariko and her relationship with Shiino through a series of vignettes as Shiino's memories overwhelm her. We learn about how she was beaten and raped by her own father, how she was beaten by her boyfriends, how she had attempted suicide previously... It's a powerful look at abuse and depression, particularly as it's pretty much never discussed explicitly. I mean, yes, there is dialogue that expressly states that Mariko was raped by her father, so there's no question about the basic facts of the issue, but it's never discussed. Which means Shiino is now left having to wrestle with all her feelings about their relationship that they were never able to really resolve. And I don't mean that in sexual way; their relationship is almost closer to that of a mother/daughter one than of best friends.

And while Shiino is ostensibly the stable one, the one who's working and living on her own, we see through her actions that she's argueably more "broken" than Mariko. Shiino even notes multiple times that she's not thinking straight. She's prone to wild outbursts and recklessness. I was genuinely surprised that she managed to get home in one piece. By comparison, Mariko seems much more together, despite having to endure a great deal more trauma.

But that's the beauty of this story. It highlights that those labels of "broken" or "traumatized" or whatever are just labels, and don't come close to capturing the full breadth of the experiences behind the person. Only by seeing through all of the elements, in the aggregate, that we get the sense that Mariko was really broken. And Shinno was really doing the right thing, despite how bat-shit crazy she seemed at times.

It's a deeply emotional and emotive story. I read a preview of the entire first chapter (availble online here) and was immediately hooked. Honestly, that preview is super powerful and is probably the best thing Yen Press could've done to help sell the book. If you read that and like it, you will be absolutely captivated by the rest of the story. If you read it and don't like, then it's probably not a book for you.

The single volume for this story came out last week so it should available in any bookstore now. It retails for $18 US for the hardcover and $8.99 US for a digital version.
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