Cover Image: What's Left of Me Is Yours

What's Left of Me Is Yours

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Member Reviews

I started reading this book and found that it was not for me.  It didn't seem fair for me to review a book that I didn't finish.
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This was a very beautiful and heart-wrenching novel. This novel focuses on legal systems in Japan. Some of the parts were a hard read. Still, I found it refreshing and liked learning about the customs of Japan. I don’t remember the case, but this novel gave a comprehensive view of it. Thus, I recommend this for those who would to learn more the country of Japan and its legal systems.
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The premise was much more interesting than the story itself. I thought there was a lot more description and explanation of what's happening rather than interaction between characters. I think sometimes it can work out well in that way but in this case, I found it a little dull. I think it turned more into romance than a murder story. 

Thanks to Netgalley and to the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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When Sumiko Sarashima was seven, her mother was murdered. Now, as an adult, she is trying to piece together the past, pouring over case files, photos, and evidence in a bid to learn the truth.

In Tokyo there is a whole industry surrounding the ‘wakaresaseya’, someone who is hired by one spouse to seduce the other so they can get the upper hand in a divorce. Satō hires a wakaresaseya agent, Kaitarō, to try and seduce his wife, Rina, assuming it will be fairly easy—but he doesn’t expect Kaitarō to fall in love with Rina and start a chain of violent events.

This story is told from alternating viewpoints, times, and locations and has amazing descriptions of Japan. I could really picture each scene in such a wonderful way. It’s definitely a slow-burn but the writing is pretty incredible. I really enjoyed seeing the pieces come together, and learning more about the characters. The concept of the wakaresaseya was really interesting, and I would have liked more detail on that, but if you’re in the mood for a quietly-told mystery I definitely recommend you pick this one up. Oh, and did I mention this book is inspired by a real-life crime?!
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Not my cup of tea, especially as I got into the second half of the book, but the details about the Japanese legal system were nevertheless very interesting. I felt there was a coldness to the book which didn't allow me to know the characters like I wanted to.
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Set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime story with complicated implications, WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS is an instantly gripping and poignant debut novel.

Kicking off with a newspaper article about a shocking crime, Stephanie Scott introduces readers to the “wakaresaseya,” a member of a discrete industry focused on helping couples (or at least one half of a couple) initiate divorce proceedings. A wakaresaseya can either help a spouse catch their partner in the act or, in extreme circumstances, flirt with and seduce a partner to create evidence for a divorce. Here, we follow the case of a wakaresaseya gone off the rails as he does the unthinkable and falls in love with his mark. Or does he? Years later, all we know for sure is that a woman, Rina, has been murdered, a wakaresaseya named Kaitarō is imprisoned, and it is up to Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, to find out the truth about her mother’s affair and death.

Alternating timelines, Scott highlights first Sumiko’s discovery of Kaitarō and her mother’s death certificate, and then the beginnings of Rina and Kaitarō’s relationship. The Sumiko we meet is ambitious and intelligent, and though she has lived without her parents for many years, she has been raised dutifully and admirably by her beloved grandfather, Yoshi. It was Yoshi who first told her about her mother’s death in a car accident, and it is Yoshi’s home she is living in when she discovers that there is far more to the story than he has ever let on. Using both her own connections as a budding lawyer and Yoshi’s meticulous recordkeeping, Sumiko begins to examine the facts of her mother’s death, beginning with a 23-day-long videotaped “confession” from Kaitarō.

Scott carefully explains the Japanese legal system without minimizing it or turning her narrative into a textbook, laying bare for us the ways that the Japanese judicial system has both failed and protected Sumiko. She finds out that she is one of the “forgotten parties,” a labeling in which the families of victims are “forgotten” to protect the criminal defendants. Not only are forgotten parties not informed of court proceedings, they are even kept from knowing the outcome of sentencing or the perpetrator’s date of release. This is how Sumiko has avoided learning about her mother’s murder for so long, and, in brighter terms, how she was able to go on living her life without fixating on the past.

In alternating chapters, we meet a young Rina, trapped in a cold, loveless marriage and often overlooked not only by her husband, Satō, but also by the people around her. When Satō secretly approaches Kaitarō to seduce her, he inadvertently alters the course of their lives forever when Kaitarō sees something in Rina’s pictures: a quiet sturdiness, an elegant beauty and, just beyond it all, an intelligence that awakens something in him. He agrees to take the case, but he knows it will not be like his usual marks, and Satō’s snide remarks about his undesirable wife only fuel his curiosity.

Slowly but surely, Kaitarō follows Rina, learning her usual haunts, rhythms and routines. When he approaches her one day, she is so stunned to be noticed and flirted with that she hardly recognizes what is happening --- and that is when Kaitarō knows the job is too big. What follows is a whirlwind relationship, with Rina trying to uphold her marriage and values, and Kaitarō attempting to hold onto his job while allowing himself to experience something real after living as a sort of shapeshifter for so long. Scott envelops readers in their romance so tightly and intimately that you cannot even dream of questioning Kaitarō’s feelings for Rina. Yet how could a person love someone so strongly and still murder them?

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS is written with the air of a thriller, especially as you watch Rina and Kaitarō inch closer and closer to their tragic fates. But the alternating timelines, along with the power of memory, give the novel an added psychological edge as Sumiko pores over countless records, finding inconsistencies that make her wonder if justice actually has been served. As much as the book is about a violent crime and its decades-long ramifications, it is just as much about perception and the ways in which we can never really perceive someone wholly as we perceive ourselves. Rina and Kaitarō’s affair is a clear demonstration of this theme, as she does not realize his true profession until it is too late. But Sumiko, too, comes to realize that she has never really known the people around her, from her late mother to her beloved grandfather. Driving this theme is the double-edged sword of passion and possession and the question of where the line can be drawn, especially in affairs of the heart.

The novel is confidently written, and with good reason, as Scott first learned of a similar case in 2010. Pulled in by the combination of a love triangle, a covert industry set on tearing couples apart, and a murdered woman, she spent the next nine years conducting research for this book. She traveled through Japan, interviewed experts and common citizens alike, and was even awarded for her work in laying bare the Japanese judicial system. Americans familiar with an unbalanced system will be surprised to see the opposite in effect here, with the Japanese courts so perfectly rigid that there is little room for nuance, an equally imperfect system that Scott is careful not to discredit, even as she exposes its fault lines.

Scott’s keen eye for research is on full display, and every aspect of the culture --- from the landscape to the courts and even the public eye --- is rendered fully, respectfully and with an immersive quality that feels unparalleled. Add to that the breathtaking detail with which she describes both Tokyo and the Japanese coast, and you have a novel that doubles as a travelogue in all the best ways. And let’s not forget the food descriptions.

However, what makes WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS a truly outstanding book is that Scott can do all of the above and still write a gripping and instantly compelling story about love and loss and how they shape our lives. Her prose is tight yet lyrical, atmospheric yet grounded, and her ability to unpack the ramifications of Rina’s affair long after it has ended speaks volumes for her capacity for compassion and emotional intelligence. This is a cleverly constructed, shrewd and beautiful novel with as much tension as heart, and plenty of worthy conversation starters about passion, deception and memory.
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The premise was so interesting, and the execution was perfection! What a wonderful, slow-burn, murder mystery. - with such a unique plot. It is beautifully written, there is love, there are secrets, and familial betrayal. Perfect for a fall read if you want something atmospheric and darkly cozy.
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Expectations can really make or break a reading experience. Unfortunately this story fell short of mine.

This debut is based on a real trial in Tokyo. The author did a beautiful job with the emotions in this complicated love story but I was hoping to learn more about wakaresaseya. It was just lacking what I was looking for. I still think people will enjoy this story. If you’re looking to learn more then I suggest seeking out an own voices book on the topic.
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QUICK TAKE: i really enjoyed this quiet slow-burn murder mystery about a woman who falls for a "wakaresaseya" (a professional paid to break up couples). I was extremely interested in the idea of a wakaresaseya and could read an entire book on that topic, but felt it was not fully explored here. That being said, I found Scott's writing to be beautiful and ethereal, was invested in the character relationships, and thought the use of time jumps was effective.
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4.5 stars. 

This is a really good read - part family drama, part romance, part legal thriller, part mystery. I had never heard about the real 2010 case and trial this novel was inspired by & I definitely hadn’t ever heard of the “wakaresaseya” (professional marriage-breakup industry in Japan), so a lot of this book really took me by surprise. Throughout the novel, Scott will seamlessly segue from storytelling to describe certain important aspects of Japanese culture, which not only helps deepen the reader’s understanding of what’s happening in the story, but it also provides a window into Japan’s legal system (which is MUCH harsher than America’s). Not only is her knowledge of the Japanese legal system top-notch, but she even made sure to deeply research the locations and settings she uses throughout the book (which are all described so perfectly, that you can truly picture where the story is taking place at any given point). The amount of research Scott did for this book is very evident - and as she mentions in her Acknowledgements, it took her many years to complete, which ultimately made for an even more phenomenal (and believable) work of fiction. 

Overall, this book is tragic, yet beautiful, elegantly written, and wholly immersive. I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Scott does next. Thank you to NetGalley & Doubleday Books for providing me with a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review!
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Another wonderful book read this summer! This is a beautifully written debut that is a blend of a mystery, love-story, and betrayal that saw this love-story turn all wrong. It is also a search for a child’s identity and her search for the truth about her family and about her mother.

So this very much felt in the same vein as An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato. And I was all over it for that! I really, really enjoyed An Unremarkable Body, and in What’s Left of Me is Yours, Sumiko uses court transcripts and stories from her Grandfather to slowly peel back the layers buried in the past, to better understand her mother’s murder and to understand who she is as well. This continues on the Literary Hoarders site:
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Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books shared this debut novel on the Spring 2020 Book Preview podcast episode and the real industry (and true crime that occurred in Tokyo in 2010) it’s based on sounded horrifying, but also fascinating. Apparently, divorces in Japan get incredibly contentious as shared custody of the children is not an option. So, a real industry exists where a spouse can hire someone to seduce their partner and collect evidence to be used in the battle for sole custody. The story is a mystery / love story / family drama mash-up that’s told in alternating perspectives between Sumi in present day (Rina’s daughter investigating what really happened to her mother) and events as they happened in the past. This story is about a woman losing her identity through marriage and a woman’s struggle to find herself again. The chapters are short, so it feels fast-moving and I was fascinated by the many differences between the Japanese legal system and ours. There were occasional philosophical tangents that felt overwrought and I thought the ending was a bit anti-climactic. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this look into a unique cultural phenomenon (4 stars).
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A beautifully complex novel from Stephanie Scott, taking the story of a family and shows how the past will never stay buried. (I keep saying this in reviews, it's a common trope.)

Two time frames, love, betrayal, murder, lies, coverup. It's everything a good book is made of. On top of all of this, is the Japanese legal system and all of the complexities. 

This is a book that is heartbreaking and modern. It's a powerful story of love.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I just finished What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott and I loved it, couldn’t get enough! ⁣
Haunting, hypnotic and atmospheric; I found myself completely enthralled by Rina’s heartbreaking love story and Sumiko’s quest to find the truth. Inspired by a true crime, this book is dark and not for the happy ever after crowd, but it’s lyrical prose and captivating mystery will be appreciated by both true crime and literary fiction fans.⁣
I also found it so interesting to read what isn’t exactly a legal procedural, but a story that definitely walks the line of being crime fiction, that was set in Japan. It was a new exploration for me, and set in such a different legal system than the US and crime thrillers I usually read.⁣
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Such a fascinating story based on a true case in Japan. Learning about the Japanese legal system and customs was so interesting but the author's skill with language and suspense was exceptional. Truly enjoyed my time with this novel.

Thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for the ARC to read and review.
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The richness of the writing and the author's way of seamlessly letting the reader in on various facets of Japanese culture and legal idiosyncrasies had me sucked in to this story.

This is a murder mystery with alternating perspectives/timelines, but don't go into this expecting a fast-paced thriller. It is more of an atmospheric slow burn literary mystery. There is a small cast of characters that we explore, and the book is more about their inner lives and motivations than driven by a complex plot.

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I learned a lot in this book. In Tokyo during the early 1990’s a wakaresaseya (agent hired to break up a marriage) has bee hired by a salaryman to seduce his wife, Rina. Surprisingly, Kaitaro doesn’t just break up the marriage, he and Rina fall in love. Mistakes in their relationship lead to Rina death. Rina’s father and daughter are the ones who must deal with the aftermath. The story works backwards as the daughter pieces together what happened. And in the search, Sumiko, the daughter tries to create her own identity. I would call this an intelligent mystery. I love books that take me farther into another culture.
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I came upon What's Left of Me is Yours while searching for something different for our book discussion selection.  I am pleased to say that different doesnt even begin to describe this novel. Stephanie scott centers her book in the Japanese practice of "Wakaresaseya." Wakaresaseya involves hiring someone to seduce your spouse.  Sumiko lived through that dynamic in her family as a child.  The novel explores her memories of the times and the aftermath, including legal proceedings.  The reader knows the story didnt end well; but Stephanie Scott pulls one in with her complex compelling character profiles, and her tightly woven plot.  Told in the voices of all the players, the story advances to it's inevitable conclusion. 
What's Left of Me wasnt particularly a fast read, I found myself needing to absorb the happenings. I would have liked to have discussed the book as I read, which is what leads me to the book discussion recommendation - lots to discuss and debate. 4.5
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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In What’s Left of Me is Yours, Stephanie Scott took me to a world I knew very little about: the Japanese legal system and an unusual business called “wakaresaseya.” Wikipedia defines wakaresaseya as “businesses that specialize in breaking up relationships, often by drawing one of the partners into an affair or by producing other incriminating evidence.” This business is at the heart of her book. We know it from the start, but Sumiko, a young attorney, does not. When Sumiko was very young her mother was murdered and so Sumiko was raised by her grandfather. Sumiko knows little about the circumstances of her mother’s murder, but hearing that the man who killed her is being released, sets Sumiko on a path to unravel the mystery that has always surrounded the murder.

“Lies, when they are first told, have a shadow quality to them, a gossamer texture that can wrap around life. They have that feather-light essence of childhood, and my childhood was built on lies.”

What’s Left of Me is Yours is a literary mystery that drew me in from the very start. Told from both the perspectives of Sumiko and her mother, Rina, the reader travels back and forth in time as the question of what really happened to Rina slowly becomes clear. Scott’s book was very atmospheric, creating a real sense of place in Tokyo and the two seaside towns that also played prominently in her story. I also found the Japanese legal system fascinating and appreciated that Scott was able to deliver so many different glimpses into the culture there. At times the book moved a little slowly, but it always held my interest and is one I recommend to lovers of literary mysteries or those who enjoy being immersed in a different culture.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Doubleday Books (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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I couldn't get into this one -I got to 20% and felt like nothing had happened. It was a little confusing w/ the POVs and flashbacks, trying to discern what was happening when, but overall this one was too slow for me.
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