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Publisher's Summary

Good Morning America Book Club Pick and New York Times Best Seller!

From debut author Asha Lemmie, “a lovely, heartrending story about love and loss, prejudice and pain, and the sometimes dangerous, always durable ties that link a family together.” (Kristin Hannah, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Nightingale)

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist."

Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond - a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it - a battle that just might cost her everything.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free.

©2020 Asha Lemmie (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"This virtuosic debut enthralled me from the very first page. Lemmie's compelling and compassionate portrait of a young girl in post-WWII Japan is meticulously researched and beautifully crafted. What a heartbreaking, exceptional story by a sublime talent - I can't wait to see what she does next!" (Fiona Davis, nationally best-selling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue)

"Fifty Words for Rain is an impressive debut novel about a mixed-race girl growing up in post WWII Japan. Sensitive and bristling with closely-observed humanity, Asha Lemmie tells a story that we have not heard before with an ending that is as surprising as it is brutally honest." (Mark Sullivan, best-selling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky)

"Asha Lemmie's debut novel Fifty Words for Rain follows eight-year-old Nori after she is abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself in the unkind graces of a family built on tradition and power. Lemmie has penned an impassioned story that confronts the uncomfortable truths behind institutionalized prejudice and the history of violence and subjugation of the powerless by those on the highest rungs of society. It’s an emotional journey with an unexpected ending." (Mary Lynn Bracht, author of White Chrysanthemum)

What listeners say about Fifty Words for Rain

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Transformation of a bastered girl with Blue blood

I am a Japanese who lives in Israel so it was extremely interesting and I finished in one day. The young auther is very talented. The way she wrote this book I can draw the images of each charactors. Also I loved she put here and there Japanese words.
She used word "Aho" which means stupid in Kansai diarect, it is very familier to me and that makes me smile.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Brave, subtle and thought provoking

I saw the author interviewed on GMA and thought her presentation was done well. I needed a break from political expose books, so decided on a book of fiction for a welcome change.

The book had its moments of “joy”, and reminded me to look for the little things. I also do a lot of self-introspection and some of the protagonists thoughts took me to places in myself I’ve hesitated to visit; I’m glad I did!

This book covers so many things - the resiliency of people in adverse situations, the power of friendship, the curse of being unable to voice true feelings, and both the power of love and the sense and obligation of duty. It’s a book well worth reading!

14 people found this helpful

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Too sad!

I read this as it was a GMA book club pick. I read reviews, sounded good...”I couldnt put it down” was one. This book was so depressing at every turn. Just when you thought, oh well, it has to get better... it HAS to have a happy ending... If you have depression, if you are looking for a book to cheer you up, love story, an escape, etc... This is NOT a book for you! Would not recommend to any of my friends :-(

9 people found this helpful

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Fifty Words Could Have Been Great...

An insightful view into Post World War II Japan, the determination of the royalty trying to hold on to their power in a changing Japan, and the tragic lives of their victims. The book is too long. The sadistic and horrifying abuse of a young girl over the first 4=6 hours of the book was so painfully sad that i stopped listening to the book for weeks at a time. The character development of the main characters is excellent. The plot was compelling in places, but there were gaps that left the reader wondering exactly what happened. The ending was abrupt and decidedly unsatisfying. It seemed as if the author became fatigued and just got tired of writing.

7 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

I kept listening during the 12+ hours for it to finally merit the reviews of “amazing” and “hope there’s a sequel.” A novel filled with hopelessness and tragedy should have a redeeming quality. I suppose it’s believable that the Japanese culture at that time was so cruel but Nori seemed to have gained nothing from her painful experience. It was quite slow at times and completely disappointing in the end. I certainly wouldn’t read anything else by this author and won’t blame it on the narration, which was just fine.

5 people found this helpful

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Awesome from the Begimning!

This book was a good read from the very beginning. It is very rare to read a book that captures my attention from the 1st Chapter!

4 people found this helpful

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Vividly done

This had to be one of the best books I’ve every read, heard, visualized..... It brought ears to my eyes. It touches on all of your emotions. Listening to it was extraordinary. You could see it as if it were on the big screen. The story was depicted so well for the time period. The author did an excellent job of making you know the characters as if you were there. This needs to be a movie.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Had potential

Could have been great. Started well - story didn’t develop very good. Kept waiting for the main character to do something. She just ended up whiney

2 people found this helpful

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Hated the ending

I understand making tough decisions in life. But, this ending was incongruous with the character development as I saw it, and came out of left field... unwelcome. Disappointing. Won’t recommend

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • LJ
  • 10-10-20

Phenomenal!

Absolutely loved it. I was engaging and just a tremendous work of art. Very thankful to have been able to enjoy it.

1 person found this helpful