A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, for readers of Everything I Never Told You and The Perfect Nanny, What’s Left of Me Is Yours charts a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life – and her murder.
In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that – until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.
Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
Hi and welcome to my review of What’s Left of Me Is Yours, a stunning tale from the sensational cover to every single sentence behind it!
What’s Left of Me Is Yours has a dual narrative. One tells the story of Rina, who is married with a daughter and falls in love with another man. Little does Rina know that her lover was paid by her husband to seduce her, because he intends to divorce her and if he has proof that she cheated on him, he’ll have the upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Neither man planned on the seducer to actually fall in love with Rina. The other storyline follows Rina’s daughter Sumiko as she discovers that her grandfather has been lying to her for years and as she tries to find out what happened to her mother all those years ago when she herself was just a little girl.
Based on a true story, What’s Left of Me Is Yours is part love story, part drama, part murder mystery. Obviously, it was the murder that drew me in, that’s the name of my game, but surprisingly, it was the love story that kept me glued to my phone most of all. There’s just something about Rina and Kaitarō’s story that is so beguiling, so mesmerizing and although I knew from the start that something went horribly wrong, theirs is such an intriguing tale, and I just kept rooting for them, against my better judgment and despite the things I knew were coming.
What’s Left of Me Is Yours is an audiobook of more than ten hours but I flew through it. The dual narrative definitely kept the story going, I loved discovering new bits and pieces about Rina’s history, and I thoroughly enjoyed Sumiko’s quest for the truth. It is not merely entertaining though, it’s also educational (but in a fun, not at all stuffy way): I learned a lot about Japanese culture, the Japanese penal system, and of course wakaresaseya, the Japanese industry of breaking up relationships.
What’s Left of Me Is Yours is exquisitely narrated by Hanako Footman. I’m convinced that this is one of those instances when the narrative becomes even better through the expert narration. She narrates in a kind of dreamy voice that not only suits the story perfectly, but lifts it to an even higher level, and she effortlessly got me passed the Japanese words that I might have struggled with otherwise.
What’s Left of Me Is Yours is an astonishing debut and I’m looking forward to reading whatever Stephanie Scott comes up with next!
Many thanks to Kate Moreton @ The Orion Publishing Group for the audiobook! All opinions are my own.