I can’t remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover in a single sitting. I found Convenience Store Woman such a compelling mix of heartbreaking and enraging and delightful. Keiko Furukura is a woman in her late thirties who is completely fulfilled by her part-time job as a convenience store worker. However, everyone in her life is deeply concerned by the fact that she has no relationship to speak of, much less a marriage, and no real career. Keiko isn’t quite normal and, though she tries her best to mimic those she believes she should emulate, it never seems to be enough.
“You eliminate the parts of your life that others find strange–maybe that’s what everyone means when they say they want to ‘cure” me.”
I think that Keiko is a treasure and I wanted to dive into the pages of this little book and defend her from literally everyone. Family, co-workers, and supposed “friends” were all equally judgmental and their concern for her future was so insanely overbearing. There was not a single person in the novel that truly understood or valued her, and it enraged me. Seriously, the fury radiating off of me as I read was almost palpable. My dog was concerned, y’all. She could feel a disturbance in the Force.
“The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of. So that’s why I need to be cured. Unless I’m cured, normal people will expurgate me.”
There is a male character who is just as unusual as Keiko but is less well-adjusted. When Keiko tries to help him, he immediately leeches onto her like a parasite. If I never hear another word about the Stone Age or village mentality, it’ll be too soon. I honestly hated him. He was insanely obnoxious and the way he treated Keiko made me want to give him a hug. A very tight hug. Around the throat. Until his face turned blue.
Can you tell I was irrationally angry at literally everyone in this book who wasn’t Keiko?
“This society hasn’t changed one bit. People who don’t fit into the village are expelled: men who don’t hunt, women who don’t give birth to children. For all we talk about modern society and individualism, anyone who doesn’t try to fit in can expect to be meddled with, coerced, and ultimately banished from the village.”
Just because your life doesn’t look like everyone else’s doesn’t mean you’re wrong or that your feelings and decisions are any less valid. As long as your choices aren’t inflicting actual harm on another human being, march to the beat of your own drum. Live your best life. Learn from Keiko and stop hiding who you are at your core just to please the masses. You do you. Even if that means everyone else on the planet is left scratching their heads in confusion and huffing in frustration over your refusal to conform.