adult novels · book reviews

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami


Title: Sputnik Sweetheart
Author: Gena Showalter
Source: Borrowed
Edition:  Paperback
Publication: Vintage
Pages: 229 pages
Category: Fiction, Magical Realism, Romance, Contemporary

Twenty-two-year-old Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel.

Surprised that she might, after all, be a lesbian, Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire and should she ever tell Miu how she feels about her.

Frustrated in his own love for Sumire, K consoles himself by having an affair with the mother of one of his pupils. Then a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island and asks for his help, and he discovers that something very strange has happened to Sumire.




Sumire is an aspiring novelist who is having trouble with her sexuality. She is in love with Miu who is older than her. To add to the mix, Sumire’s closest friend K is in love with her. K does not tell Sumire his feelings but instead supports her infatuation for Miu. Sumire becomes Miu’s personal secretary which makes them have a close relationship. They traveled together until Sumire suddenly went missing. K and Miu try hard to find Sumire but she just disappeared without any reason. However, as K stayed in Greece, he slowly understood how and why Sumire disappeared.  In the end, Sumire was not found and that K needed to go back to Japan. After a few months, Sumire called K which surprised him.


I noticed that Sumire was just infatuated with Miu.  This resulted to her getting confused with her gender. I think she really knows that K likes her but she won’t entertain his feelings because he would not tell her. I also noticed that K needed competition to realise his feelings for Sumire. It’s plot could be a normal he loves her but she loves another but it was not. Alternate worlds were involved and it was used in a very weird way.  I noticed also that the title of the story Sputnik Sweetheart is a fitting title. This is because sputnik is a  series of soviet satellites and the word means travelling companion, thus sputnik sweetheart means travelling lover.


The ending surprised me. I was not sure that Sumire was alive. My bet would be 99% she would be dead. However,I think she was alive but where she is I don’t know. Also, why would she call K and not Sumire for the ending. Another thing that surprised me was Sumire fell in love with Miu right away. On the spot, she just concluded that she was infatuated with Miu. Also, the story had a lot of metaphors which confused me.


The story started to confuse me when Sumire disappeared. I did not understand how and why she disappeared. The alternate universe did not make sense to me. Also, I don’t know if she died because the ending was a telephone call from her to K. It had a confusing ending where in K and Sumire promise to meet each other. The role of Miu was not elaborated much, was she just the love interest of both characters or was she meant to be there to help them realise that Sumire and K were meant for each other. Honestly, half of the story was really confusing for me.


I learned that love could change you in a positive and negative way. The introvert Sumire, bloomed to become a fashionable and pretty lady. Since, Miu was both fashionable and pretty she decides to improve herself. Also, Sumire accepted  a regular secretarial job in exchange for her dream to become a writer. However, when her love was not reciprocated she suddenly disappeared.


This book reminded me that there are things which are too weird to explain. There might be alternate worlds, it is best to be open minded to this kinds of ideas. This is because they could be real. Also, one needs a very open mind in order to read diverse and weird novels. This is because the goal of reading is to learn and to learn requires an open mind.


I liked the story but the half of it made me confused. The characters had there own emotional battles. I think they were also confused with their identity, wants and emotions. I liked how the author explained Miu’s grievances. I just don’t know if Sumire is alive or not. For the ending, its comforting to know that Sumire and K will meet. However, I don’t know if K would meet her at the alternate world or not. Anyways, I gave this novel a 3 hearts rating because I liked it despite its weirdness. I think the writing needs a little tweaking but the story plot was very good. I liked that it made me think after reading it. I can make my own conclusions. Due to its weirdness this ending was okay for me but for a romance novel, definitely not.


“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

“The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

“In the world we live in, what we know and what we don’t know are like Siamese twins, inseparable, existing in a state of confusion.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

“Understanding is but the sum of misunderstandings.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart


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