I just finished the book Fifty Words for Rain and it still resonates…and I’m trying to figure out why.

The story speaks to the Japanese culture back in the early 1900’s. Nori, the main character, was born out of wedlock in a time when death should have been her destiny. Instead, she is kept in her grandmother’s attic as a secret…until her brother is brought to the house as the living heir to the imperial dynasty. He takes her under his wing, and she begins to live again. What happens next I’ll leave to you to find out.

The book was addictive, and I picked it up in any free moment I had, but I still wonder what the ingredients were that hooked me.

Deeply developed characters, a wonderful use of words, a beautiful flow, and an intriguing culture I knew little about all played their parts. I cared about the main character, rooted for her. She was a survivor, strong and resilient, just how I like my female characters.

The book I read prior to this was the exact opposite. One of the women was too opinionated, to the point she seemed egocentric and overbearing. The second woman went along with whatever her friend wanted, seemingly too pliable and thereby weak. I didn’t see much growth until the very end of the book, and by then it was too late to win me over.

I’m realizing it takes a lot to satisfy my needs as a reader. It’s the reason I lean more to women’s fiction than to fluff. Lightweight plots and tropes are fine for a break but I’m usually hungry for substance, rich and complex characters, backgrounds with depth, and wordsmith who know how to use language to create a world I can disappear into.

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