A “masterpiece” about a withdrawn husband, a desperate wife, and the young Japanese woman who is hired to break down the walls between them (Robert Goolrick).
Thomas Tessler has cloistered himself in his bedroom and shut the world out for the past three years. His wife, Silke, lives right in the next room, but Thomas no longer shares his life with her. He leaves his hideout only occasionally, in the wee hours of the night, to pick up food at the grocery store around the corner from their Manhattan apartment. Unable to cope with a devastating loss, Thomas has become isolated and withdrawn. The Japanese have a word for this phenomenon: hikikomori. They also have a solution for it: the “rental sister.”
Desperate for one last chance to salvage their life together, Silke hires Megumi, a young Japanese immigrant, to lure Thomas back into the world. Fleeing from her own shattering experience, Megumi has buried her pain in a fast life spent in nightclubs with nameless men. Now she will try to help Thomas and Silke as a rental sister. At first Thomas remains steadfast and sequestered, but as he grows to trust Megumi, a deepening—and increasingly sensual—relationship unfolds.
The Rental Sister is a taut, “serenely beautiful” (The Wall Street Journal) novel that packs a big philosophical punch and asks: What are the risks of intimacy? Can another woman ever lead a husband back to his wife? And what must we surrender for love?
“[A] quiet but poignant exploration of loneliness and self-discovery.” —USA Today
“A mesmerizing debut at once sorrowful, intimate, and optimistic . . . an enthralling success.” —Booklist, starred review