The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina – Blog Tour Book Review

Paperback Book  Cover

About the Book

A sweeping, moving novel based on an incredible true story.

Picture an old disused telephone box in a beautiful garden, not found easily.

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in a tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels like it is breaking.When you’ve lost everything – what can you find?

Author Photo

About the Author

Laura Imai Messina was born in Rome, Italy but has been living in Japan for the last 15 years. She works between Tokyo and Kamakura, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children.

She took a Master’s in Literature at the International Christian University of Tokyo and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World has been sold in over 21 territories.

Laura can be found on Twitter at@LaImaiMessina and on Instagram at @LauraImaiMessina, or on her website

Lucy Rand (Translator): Lucy Rand is a teacher, editor and translator from Norfolk, UK. She has been living in the countryside of Oita in south-west Japan for three years.

What I Thought

Picture of my hardback copy with many tabbed pages

Well, what do I say about this one? As you can see from the picture above I might have found one or two quotes that resonated. 

At its heart this is a story about loss, but it’s also hopeful and romantic and captures slices of human life. 

The two main characters Yui and Takeshi are our focus but I love how other characters they meet also get centred at times. 

There is a man who literally looks at life through a picture frame and this creates some of the most vivid imagery in the story. 

As a Humanist I don’t believe in a Supernatural Power but I do remain connected to those I have lost, and yes I do still speak to them from time to time, usually in my head rather than out loud though. Personally for me having a place to go to speak to the dearly departed isn’t necessary but I’m not sure that the Phone box fulfills that for these characters either. At its core I think it is about the human connection that the Phone box brings them. The space to be with their grief for as long as they need.

“Perhaps it doesn’t do any harm, she thought, to continue talking to those who are no longer with us.” 

There’s also a acknowledgment about how individual our responses to death are. Even the people who visit the phone box approach it in different ways. 

This is a quiet book, there are moments of tension but on the whole it’s an observation. Past and present and future are handled as a continuum and details from each time feed in where they make sense to tell us. There is both a distance and a closeness in the narration and it is eminently readable. In fact I read it almost in one sitting. In most of the book every other chapter steps away from narration and almost gives information like footnotes – the number that died in the tsunami, the cost of that photo frame, the top memories of a person gone. You could skip them but they highlight the ordinary, the facts, and the concept that life and death happens off page too.

There has been so much death across the world in the last year that the paperback publication of this feels timely. I hope that it’s increased accessibility means more people can find some comfort in its pages. I will be making a note of all those quotes I highlighted, removing the tabs and seeing if when I return to it I pick them out again, or if I see something different depending on what experience I bring to the book when I next read it.

Inspired by true events, discover the true story of the Wind Phone here: I was glad to read that the filming rights have been optioned because I think this will make a poignant film and I will be seeking it out.

Thanks to Compulsive Readers for having me on the tour. I already had this stunning hardback copy from Goldsboro as it was a book of the month pick (and I definitely see why). Good news the equally stunning paperback is out now. Opinions are entirely my own. Do check out the rest of the tour stops to see what everyone else thought.

Blog Tour Image

Posted on March 8, 2021, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Please share your thoughts with me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: