This is Hayao Miyazaki's favorite childhood book—and, according to Neil Gaiman's foreword included in this English translation, it's going to be the focus of his last upcoming film. This book was a beautiful, thought-provoking and philosophical epic wrapped around the story of one young boy's journey in 1937 Japan.
It's often the youngest of stories with the largest of messages, and How Do You Live? is no exception.
Born and raised in Tokyo, but now finding himself living outside of the city, Copper is a young teenaged boy growing up in 1937 Japan under the guidance of his family. He's trying to make his way in the world like all of us do at that age--looking to family, school, friends, and society for ways and tools on how to be, how to think, and how to live.
This novel portrays that sense of "finding oneself" during those tumultuous years in such an entrancing way. There are interjections on ethics, societal reflections, and life lessons. There are moments where Copper struggles for identity amongst his family and lot in life. There are moments where he is just a boy, doing boy things.
Life is not just one thing, or even multiple things. And neither are people just one thing, or many things. How Do You Live? showcases those complexities and nuances in ways that are simply astounding for a novel tailored to such a young audience.
It's a poignant and compelling read—and, most important, it's an engaging one. I was riveted to Copper's journey and was right there with him for every moment.
Do yourself a favor and pick this one if you're interested in the subject or in Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films—this book's core resonates with a lot of the master's work.
Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.