Cover Image: Go


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Member Reviews

I was aware that Japan is a very closed culture. It is sad and wrong that people should be treated cruelly because of citizenship. I personally don't have any issue with a country not allowing citizenship if that is what they want to but unkind treatment of others is wrong. This book was very insightful into that kind of situation. I almost didn't want to finish the book because of the treatment the boy also suffered from his father, mainly but also some by his mother. Homes should be a place of love, respect and kindness. Her writing style is simple and direct. I do not think this is representative of all Asian homes and that prejudice is so abusive and certainly hope this is changing for the better.
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I struggled with gathering my thoughts on this one. I really liked and can appreciate the premise behind this story. I love the cultural difference and uniqueness of this story. I think it was great following these two characters and their romantic love. However, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m very picky with YA, but I really felt like this one felt flat for me. I really wanted more from this. It was a lovely story, but it just felt very dull in my opinion.
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5 stars

A darkly charming coming-of-age story (novella length) about a Zainichi high school boy, set in Tokyo in the mid-90’s. With a unique voice & complex characters, this story digs deep into identity, belonging, & facing discrimination. And falling in love for the first time.

[What I liked:]

•I’m usually not a fan of 1st person narration, but the voice of the MC as he tells his story is so good. Very real, by turns raw & yearning & witty. I wish the book was longer so I could spend more time with Sugihara. It really captures the awkwardness & uncertainty & rage & hopefulness of being 17 & facing an uncertain future.

•”Screw it. I decided to become Norwegian.”
—I admire how honestly this book deals with issues of ethnic prejudice in Japan (specifically against Zainichi in this story), showing from many sides how it affects the MC’s daily life & future. I also appreciate that it doesn’t subsume the fuller picture of Sugihara’s coming-of-age narrative, & the unique & personal aspects of his identity formation. It’s an intensely personal story, which I think is a strong approach to exploring larger social issues like racism in the microcosm of a fictional narrative.
—TL;DR: Ultimately, it’s Sugihara’s story, not a thinly veiled didactic tale. 

•All the characters are great, not at all bland, even the ones that don’t get much screen time. Sugihara is complex but definitely a sympathetic character. His parents are imperfect, loving, tough, & amusing. His friends, especially Jeong-il, are interesting & helped me understand Sugihara better through their interactions. Sakurai is weird & wonderful, & reminds me a bit of Kasahara Mei from “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, who is one of my favorite characters of all time. And I love the alluring Naomi-san & definitely have a huge crush on her.

•I really, really love how this story starts. The Hawaii trip & how it comes about gives a great portrayal of the Sugihara family members & their family dynamics right off the bat. It also gives a smooth way to set up the family’s background & social situation without awkward info dumping. And just overall it sets the tone for the rest of the book, & hooked me to keep reading.

•One more quote I really appreciated:
“Sometimes I wish my skin was green or something. That way, the good people will come closer and the haters will keep their distance. That would make things so much easier.” That’s how I feel sometimes about being gay.

•I think it has the perfect ending. I can’t explain without ruining it. Just read this book, & don’t you dare skip ahead to the ending ;)

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•The timelines jump around a bit. The narration style is like the MC telling his story, & he often goes into little asides & anecdotes before picking up the main timeline again. This style fits the story, & it’s well done, but I still got lost a few times.

CW: on-page physical violence against minors (by parents & teachers), on-page physical violence between peers (high school kids fighting, knife fights), depictions of racism & discrimination

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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I read this book about a year ago and tried it both as an ebook and as an audiobook. It was... interesting. I wanted to like it, especially as a huge fan of YA. Maybe it was the age of the kids. Maybe it was the hitting. Maybe it was the differing cultural experiences from my own. It was just a weird book. The writing was fine. And if your goal is to read books from authors outside of the US/UK/Aus then take a chance on this book!
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I struggle with this one- at times I loved it and at times I simply could not get myself to care about the main character. The writing was a bit disjointed at times and felt like the first run at a book and I would have loved to see more detail described or more emotions explored. At points the main character was just simply put "I am a badass" and you had to take his word for it, even though his actions felt like it was straight out of a superhero movie backstory. The plot kept me invested though, perhaps with some editing it could be a stronger book.
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I’my glad I didn’t remember the plot or the blurb because I wouldn’t consider this book a romance as I felt this was the side story, and to be fair all the mentions of the tired  tropes about the “manic pixie dream girl” made my eyes rolled. 
The book was originally written in Japanese in 2000 so I guess I can give a little bit of a pass on that one,as the trope in YA literature became more popular later on and paradoxically this book was translated into the English language in 2018.
The book is about Sugihara a Korean guy who was born in Japan but held Noth Korean nationality, later he changes to South Korean he goes through life being looked down on and segregated, and kind of bullied, he is a bully himself, his dad made him one. So the story is a mixture between how he sees the world and how the world sees him. 
There’s plenty of violence and strange sexual encounters. 
The short sentences helps the fast paced of the book that somehow resembles a Manga style witting. 
I really enjoy the book as I wasn’t expecting much and I love the dialogue that open up to my own experiences of being looked down on because of where I’m from or the colour of my skin. We tend to forget other people have similar prejudices against their own neighbours in other parts of the world. 
The most interesting part of the book is when he’s talking about the way he has to excel at everything yet he has no change to become the chief of a company or a lecturer in a prestigious school (because he’s nationality) He’s a very angry young man who finds his teenage love and he’s less angry after that. 
Absolutely fascinating stuff this one, highly recommend it
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Through reading other novels, I have become aware of the racism faced by Koreans in Japan, so this wasn’t a surprise to me unlike other reviews I’ve seen of the novel. However, what caught my eye about this novel in particular was the Romeo and Juliet-esque take on it, and that it focussed on a teenage boy as the protagonist rather than an adult. So I thought it would be interesting to see this narrative from a different perspective to what I have read previously. 

Go, at its core, is a love story between two teenagers: a Japanese girl, Sakurai, and a Korean boy, Sugihara. However, she doesn’t know that he’s Korean and Sugihara is learning how to navigate his identity. 

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked Sugihara, whilst I enjoyed the way he would tell his story I just felt like he was a bit of a caricature at first. However, the further I got into the novel, the more I began to like Sugihara and began to realise who he really is as he becomes more sure of himself. Whilst I didn’t quite think him regularly resorting to violence was his best idea, I did begin to understand why Sugihara did this, especially when we saw more of his father. 

Similarly, at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Sakurai. The fact that she seemed to be exactly the same as Sugihara when we first met her was a little repetitive. However, we very quickly saw her personality shine through and complement Sugihara well. Additionally, as I grew to like Sakurai more, I realised that having her so similar to Sugihara was a great way to show how Korean teenagers and Japanese teenagers aren’t as different as people think. Which could then be said for the larger issue of racism in Japan. 

Although Sugihara insists at the beginning of the novel that this is his love story, this novel is a lot more than that. As I mentioned, it also gives the reader a fresh perspective on the racism experienced by Koreans in Japan. Kaneshiro demonstrates how important identity is but, at the same time, how complex someone’s identity is and that they’re constantly developing it and learning what theirs is. 

Without going into too much detail, as I don’t want to spoil the turning point for Sugihara, I really loved his friendship with one particular character and I thought it was such a great addition to the novel. It gave the novel, and Sugihara, more depth. Up until the chapter of the turning point the pacing seemed a bit rushed but then everything just slowed down and I enjoyed that. The contrast of the pacing, though, was also great and made the event and the aftermath hit harder. 

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and felt like it deepened my own understanding of Korea and Japan. I would recommend that you pick this book up and I will be keeping an eye out for what this author does next!
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It's a really heavy and dark story and I have to admit that the amount of violence in these pages made me cringe many times. I've always been surprised by how violent kids are portrayed in Japanese media but I definitely believe it in this situation. After all, discrimination can get ugly and we see it with more than one character. I learned a lot about North and South Korea's relationship with Japan (history) and I believe stories like this are still very relevant. In terms of romance, it's very typical to what I've seen in Japanese literature, the awkwardness in conversation, the stiltedness, but also the forwardness in terms of intimacy.

It's a story I'll remember and I'm hoping to get a physical copy of it on my shelf. Has a bit of an inconclusive ending but I think it does its purpose.
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"But to me, all the stories about the legendary Kim Il Sung were lacking. There was nothing appealing about them. Or exciting. And that’s how I came to this realization that day in third grade:
Our stories are better."

Excellent coming of age story, really enjoyed this book. A great inside into the Zainichi thematic.
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Beautiful writing and a captivating storyline. Kaneshiro pulls writers in and holds them as the story unfolds.
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Going into this, I expected a fun light read about kids in high school who fall in love. What I got instead was kids in high school who fall in love while battling deep issues such as racism, discrimination, and even violence. The story did make me sad and it was fast paced as well as a quick read. I did find it hard to believe the main character was only in high school, he sounded a lot older than a teenager. I did find that the story was kind of all over the place because it was about love, racism, and violence HOWEVER it was thought provoking and the translation was done well too.
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I had read this novel is January 2019 through Kindle Unlimited, months before getting a free copy through Amazon's World Book Day giveaway. Even though at that time I rated this book 3 stars, I still often think about it over a year later - and having recommended it to people, it's clear to me that "Go" deserves a higher rating.

This novel tells the story of Sugihara, a Korean teenager born and raised in Japan. His language, manners and education would never reveal his nationality, but there is one thing that does give it away - his name. This has tragic consequences in Sugihara's daily life as he is constantly discriminated amidst the racist customs in the Japanese society. Naturally, he swears to hide his ethnic background from the world. But when he falls in love with a fellow student named Sakurai, he must decide what he should put first: the truth or his own happiness.

To me, this is a charming story of growing up, first love and belonging, but also ethnic heritage, identity and prejudice. It taught me a lot about the Korean and Japanese cultures through a personal narrative and I would love to read more works by this author.

*Thank you to the Publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The characters felt under development which can be expected given the length of this novel. This kind of reminded me of The Perks of being a Wallflower because it felt like a diary of a young man but also reminded me of Pachinko because of the Korean/Japanese racism and prejudice. Even though I loved both of those novels this one didn't quiet do it for me because of the lack of development I was unable to form a connection to the characters/events in the story.
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It really feel like you're reading the diary of an angsty teenager. Beside the ethnicity issues he's a fairly average boy who gets bullied in school (and fights back), has a few close friends (who make him do things either dangerous or illegal) and likes girls. This is a love story, but that was probably the part I liked the least.

The writing style, despite the topic, is pretty funny and light. He does have the tendency of going into monologues no one understands, and the passing of time is difficult to tell.
I don't understand how he could beat up so many kids in school and not get suspended, and how many 17 year olds have six packs?
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Go has some very obvious parallels to Romeo and Juliet. There is an unlikely romance between two teenagers, that could only end in tragedy. Their romance is cute and exploratory like a young first love. I would consider it to be relatively lite in the romance department. Only two out of seven chapters really have much of the romance factor in it. It’s sweet, but it wasn’t the most heart tugging romance I’ve read. For me the romance really takes backstage to the racism commentary.

This isn’t the stereotypical racism commentary that American audiences normally see, but it is equally important. Most American readers may not even familiar with the minority groups in Japan, much less the persecution that they go through. The only reason that I was already familiar with the Zainichi is because I read Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Pachinko covers more of how Koreans came to originally be in Japan, but Go really takes a look at what it means to be of Korean descent in modern day Japan. Another aspect I really enjoyed was the writing style.

Like most Japanese novels, the writing style is sparse. There isn’t a lot of excess description or flowery writing. I really enjoyed the slightly sarcastic, yet straight forward point of view of Sugihara. He doesn’t sound like the typical teenager. His tone is older, probably because of how he’s been treated in life since he’s a Zainichi. Therefore, I wouldn’t call this a coming-of-age story, he sounds like he’s already of age. However, some readers will find him to be a bit abrasive and rude. I think it’s just a matter of remembering his truth of life is different from someone else’s.

I would recommend this for lovers of Japanese novels, young romance, and main characters that are a bit abrasive. I think it is important to learn about the lives of people around the world. Hence, my Read Around the World Project. Learning about not only daily life, but also hot button issues, helps to expand your world view. For me this is a world view expanding book. However, if I hadn’t already known about the issues of racism in Japan, it would have been even more expanding.
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Title provided via Netgalley.

I really thought this book would have been engaging. The overall concept is what drew me to this story because of the unique conflict - it was one I had never read about fictionally or in real life so I was automatically intrigued. Kaneshiro, did not execute this very well. I expected more of an intense, Romeo and Juliet type feel, and the tone of the story and how rushed it was made it fall horribly flat. 
I appreciate the insights to the various cultural conflicts between Koreans and Japanese, but because that was such a strong foundation of the story, that wasn't portrayed through the author's writing of the story, I just couldn't bring myself to like this more than a low 2.75/3 stars.
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Typical struggles of being a teenager in a different country and struggling to find their identity have been well portrayed in this book. The characters are written well and the plot was fast-paced as well. What struck with me in this book is the struggle to find an identity. There are too many emotions to feel and I was an emotional mess at the end of the book. Overall, I liked the book though I felt that the story was not that impactful as I expected. I recommend this to all YA fans
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Sugihara is a teenager who lives and was born in Japan, however is of Korean background so is not recognised as a Japanese person. He falls in love with a Japanese girl named Sakurai, but does not disclose to her that he is Korean.

The book explores identity and belonging and I found the parts of the book that covered discrimination quite interesting. I also enjoyed reading about the different locations, train stations and train lines in Tokyo as I've been there and they were all familiar to me.

However the character of Sugihara was basically an 'intellectual' thug (a concept that never felt quite right to me), who seemed to deal with every annoyance in life through violence. The romance between Sugihara and Sakurai felt awkward and stilted and Sugihara's friendships felt forced and unrealistic.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that a good writer will make the unrealistic feel real and believable, but I don't feel the author pulled that off in this book. I, personally, was not convinced! So while there are interesting themes throughout this book, I felt a bit let down by the characters and their lack of authenticity.
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This was a really interesting book, more like a high-school coming of age novel with plenty of school drama and what you would expect from this sort of thing.  It also features nice discussions on nationality and identity and on a larger scale, what it means to be considered a nationality or race.  Including those topics in a book like this is smart since this time period is really when a lot of people start to develop their ideas of self and start to understand and identify with those types of characteristics.  Overall, this was well done and I enjoyed the read!
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As a Korean student in a Japanese high school, Sugihara has had to defend himself against all kinds of bullies. But nothing could have prepared him for the heartache he feels when he falls hopelessly in love with a Japanese girl named Sakurai. Immersed in their shared love for classical music and foreign movies, the two gradually grow closer and closer.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. this turned out to be a short blast of a book. Fun high school melodramas (exams, schoolyard fights, friendships, other friendships w/ gay undertones, romance, familial strain) mixed with more "serious" literary topics (history of war, displacement, identity, dual identity, triple identity).
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