The Rental Sister (Paperback)

By Jeff Backhaus

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 9781616203269, 257pp.

Publication Date: April 29, 2014

January 2013 Indie Next List

“Thomas Tessler is 'hikikomari,' secluded, isolated, and depressed, a father so filled with guilt and shame he feels his only option is to lock himself in his bedroom and avoid all human contact. Thomas's wife, Silke, forced to communicate with her husband through a locked door, is desperate to save her marriage. She enlists the services of Megumi, a Japanese 'rental sister.' Her job is to break through Thomas's wall of isolation. Backhaus does a wonderful job of exploring how these three defeated people reach out to one another and begin the work of healing.”
— Beverly Bartczak, The Fine Print, Lakeside, OH
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Description

hikikomori, n. h?kik?'mo?ri; literally pulling inward; refers to those who withdraw from society.

Inspired by the real-life Japanese social phenomenon called hikikomori and the professional "rental sisters" hired to help, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister is about an erotic relationship between Thomas, an American hikikomori, and Megumi, a young Japanese immigrant hiding from her own past. The strange, insular world they create together in a New York City bedroom and with the tacit acknowledgment of Thomas's wife reveals three human hearts in crisis, but leaves us with a profound faith in the human capacity to find beauty and meaning in life, even after great sorrow. Mirroring both East and West in its search for healing, Hikikomori and the Rental Sister pierces the emotional walls of grief and delves into the power of human connection to break through to the world waiting outside.

Named an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, one of Book Riot's 5 to Watch, and an iBookstore Editor's Choice in hardcover.

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