cover image Plum Rains

Plum Rains

Andromeda Romano-Lax. Soho, $25.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-61695-901-2

Romano-Lax explores the inner lives of women in this moving but grim story of hardship and hope. In 2029 Tokyo, Filipina nurse Angelica takes care of Sayoko, an elderly Japanese woman. Sayoko is a week away from her 100th birthday when her son sends an android prototype to assist caring for her. Hiro, as the android calls himself, adapts to Sayoko’s needs and threatens Angelica’s job more and more with each new task he learns. With Hiro’s help, Sayoko recalls old memories and secrets that were once buried. While struggling to stay relevant to Sayoko’s care, Angelica faces her own troubles, with her brother taking a dangerous mining job, a loan shark punishing her, and an affair shifting out of its familiar patterns. Although Sayoko and Angelica appear to have few similarities, through Hiro they learn just how alike their hardships are. Romano-Lax proves herself a gifted writer, creating beautiful imagery. However, what begins as a story of human connection and finding joy after trauma takes a rather bleak turn, and the conclusion is unsatisfying. Readers who approach this story with few expectations will find it rewarding, but it’s less suited to those who require optimism. (June)