Harmless Like You – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

harmless-like-you-rowan-hisayo-buchananThere is much to love about literary festivals, but one distinct pleasure is the chance encounter with a new author. Buchanan is such a bonus from the Calgary Wordfest. This is a remarkable first novel with two parallel time lines: NY from 1968-83 and contemporary 2016. Profound sadness pervades Yuki’s story in NY as an abandoned 16 year-old and her subsequent struggle to do art. She then abandons her son when he is 2 years old to live in Berlin as a struggling performance artist. The contemporary story line is about her adult son Jay who has remarkable insecurities. Mother and son are finally reunited and the confrontation/reconciliation is both beautiful and painful. This is an excellent read, exploring the thin line between attachment and abandonment, love and pain, sacrifice and selfishness, with an impressive maturity. This is an author to follow in the future.

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