Last month, I read a Japanese novel called 今度君と逢えたら. The title translates roughly into I Hope We Can Meet Again. It took me a month to read the book because I didn’t know how to read many of the kanji and had to search for words I didn’t know, but I managed to do it somehow. Overall, I understood the story and probably understood about 80% to 90% of the Japanese. I enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
The book raises an interesting moral question. Is it justifiable to change the past in order to save a loved one even if that change affects someone else’s future negatively? Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, the main character, high-school student Mayumi, uses her ability to travel back in time in order to save her father from being murdered before she was born. She yearns to bring happiness to her single mother, but she also yearns to meet the father she never knew. Mayumi succeeds in saving her father, but she quickly learns there are negative consequences from altering the past as well. She spends part of the book questioning her decision and trying to fix the damage she caused to others.
Finally, family is one of the central themes in I Hope We Can Meet Again. One of the more memorable scenes for me was a conversation between Mayumi and her future son, who travels back in time to save her. Even though she is his biological mother, she is really a stranger to him because the mother he knows is much older. Instead of speaking casual Japanese with his fifteen-year old mother–typically, family members and friends speak casually with each other–he speaks very polite Japanese when addressing her. I am grateful that I read the novel in Japanese instead of reading an English translation because the significance and meaning would have been lost.