I would have to say that this book shattered any expectations I had for it. It is an excellent read, as well as being beautifully written. The story concerns Thomas, an American man living in New York city, is devastated by the death of his very young son and has barricaded himself in his room for three years. His wife, Silke, is desperate and seeks out the only help she can find to get Thomas out of his room. The help comes in the form of a small, young Japanese woman called Megumi. She has the talent for working with Hikikomori, the Japanese word for what Thomas has done – shut himself away from society altogether. Megumi, who is tasked with getting him out of this situation is known as a “rental sister”.
As she works her way toward getting Thomas to come out of his room, she first must find her way into his room to really come to know him and why he has remained locked away. The story is excellently set up and executed as the three characters form a sort of triangulation with their most precious, unspoken feelings, schemes, and inevitable resolutions.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys great contemporary fiction from a new and upcoming voice. I look forward to reading Jeff Backhaus novels for a long time to come.