Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous

Posted by Caitie F on February 8, 2011

Title: If You Follow Me
Author: Malena Watrous
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780061732850
Rating: +++++

Summary (from goodreads):

Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father’s suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.


First of all, I must thank Amanda from The Zen Leaf for writing such an amazing review that made me go get the book from the library that same Day. Go read her review, because she does it much better than I do.

I absolutely adored reading this book. In the beginning, I made myself read slowly and take my time so I could get as much out of the Japanese culture as I could. In the past two days, I couldn’t keep reading at the slower pace, so I finished the last 250 pages in two days.

There were so many reason to love this book, but a big one is that it is about an age that is often ignored in literature because people think it can’t sell. Marina is 22, just out of college and trying something completely new to her. It is so refreshing to see a young women in a book. I am 23 and rarely see people my age or even close to my situation in the books I read. Both she and Carolyn were realistic and showed the complexities of women in their early 20s and just out of college. It is a strange and confusing time and I loved that it tok place out of New York City and romance.

If you have any interest in Japanese culture, you should read this book. I am always trying to find novels that can teach me about different perspectives and world views. I love that this took place in a small town in Japan instead of a city, and showed what life was like there. There were very complicated rules about garbage and I think I would have as much trouble and they did. I don’t want to discuss what aspects of the culture that I really loved because I want you to be able to read about it, but they included sex ed, splitting classes and jobs based on gender (and the look on education in general), and the town’s matchmaker. Before reading this, i never had much interest in visiting Japan, but I think it would be a great cultural experience!

The other aspect of the book that made me love it so much was Carolyn and Marina’s relationship. They are both bisexual, but it is just part of who they are. They don’t have problems in their relationship because of their sexuality, they have problems in their relationship because they are two people with different takes on the world and relationships. I am so happy to see books with gay characters that aren’t about the characters being gay. It was a great portrayal of a relationship and gender did not make a difference.

I could go on for pages about all of the things I liked about this book and how it impacted me. I didn’t even talk about Marina’s father and his depression then suicide, which is a large part of the book and was a fantastic example of how we all deal with grief differently. Or how I loved all of the minor characters and what they brought to the story. Or about six other things I could talk about.

I hope I have given you enough to get you at least a little interested.

This counts for the following challenges:

GLBT Challenge
TwentyEleven Challenge


7 Responses to “If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous”

  1. Amanda said

    I’m so glad that you liked it! I’ve personally never been interested much in Japanese culture, but I liked reading about the rural culture which seems to be different from what you often hear about big cities. It made me more interested in Japan than I ever have been before.

  2. Amanda said

    Oh I forgot! I meant to say it really bothers me that there isn’t enough books on the 18-24 age group. The only person I know who consistent writes for the late teen/early 20s age group is Deb Caletti. Why do they think these books won’t sell??

    • Caitie F said

      That really bugs me too! I actually did some research on it a year ago and found out it WOULD sell. I think that age group makes such an interesting story because it is the true shift to becoming an adult.

  3. It sounds like I need to read this one right now!

  4. […] by Christopher Buckley 2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen 2. 3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis 3. 4. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous 4. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card 5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld 5. 6. 6. 7. 7. 8. Forever Princess […]

  5. […] If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous 2. Boys and Girls Together by William Goldman 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. […]

  6. […] Jennifer Niven 3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis 3. Where She Went by Gayle Forman 4. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous  4. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card 5. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld  5. Nick & Norah’s […]

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