Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel by…

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel (edition 2013)

by Jeff Backhaus

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11948101,247 (3.8)14
Title:Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel
Authors:Jeff Backhaus
Info:Algonquin Books (2013), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Currently reading

Work details

Hikikomori and the Rental Sister: A Novel by Jeff Backhaus




Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Rental Sister tells the story of Megumi a Japanese woman and Thomas an American man.Thomas wife hires Megumi as a rental sister for Thomas. A deep relationship develops between Thomas and Megumi. An excellent read.
  Devlindusty | Jun 23, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Jeff Backhaus' The Rental Sister is a novel inspired by the Japanese social phenomenon "hikikomori," where one withdraws from society, and the professional “rental sisters” hired to help. The narrative is divided between the thoughts of Thomas, an emotionally scarred New Yorker who has isolated himself from the world and his wife for three years in his bedroom, and Megumi, a Japanese immigrant who came to New York to escape her own past.

Backhaus beautifully weaves their intimate stories together while making observations on the world form an outsider's perspective. ( )
  lucas.schneider | Jun 22, 2014 |
about the Japanese condition where young men withdraw from society and family
  wcbookclub | Jun 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus; (2*)

Backhaus has written a novel about an intimate and private conflict. The protagonist and narrator, Tom, has retreated into his room following a tragedy. His relationship with his wife is strained to the point where she is willing to try anything to get him to rejoin the living.
This is where Megumi comes in. A woman whose history allows her a different perspective on what has happened to Tom and thus knows (?) how to help him.
The relationships in this story are almost without conflict. For a novel containing so many painful elements almost none of it comes through in the writing of it. The reader understands that Tom has retreated into himself because he quite plainly says so in his narration. The reader also understands the reasons for Megumi's feelings because she quite plainly speaks of them to Tom.
The moments of drama that do occur seem forced and seem to have no other reason for being than to move the story along.

I found The Rental Sister to be disappointing. There is the potential for a good story within the book. The central conflict has enough meat for that but the novel gets bogged down in flowery prose and the careful tying up of loose ends to provide a happy culmination of the story. But in the end I was just not interested and could not make myself care. ( )
1 vote rainpebble | Jun 12, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an interesting read and introduced some things about Japanese culture and society of which I was not fully aware. For a first novel, I found the writing to be exceptional. There were a few elements of the story that could have been better developed -- how did Silke (the wife) know/learn about Megumi (the rental sister)? Why was Thomas so quick to accept Megumi and let her enter his life when he had been isolated for 3 years? Why did Silke suddenly attempt to take her own life when she had already suffered 3 years in her own form of isolation and at a time when Thomas was beginning to emerge? I was also not sure the introduction of the neighbor (Morris) added much to the story. Despite these lingering questions, I would recommend the book, particularly to those who wish to learn more about somewhat unique aspects of Japanese culture. ( )
  Jcambridge | Jun 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Backhaus writes beautifully; there’s no fault to be found with his prose. However, the story itself just doesn’t hold together; it’s too close to realism to be magical and so readers may struggle to suspend disbelief. The concept itself—and the question as to why the U.S. hasn’t experienced the sort of “hikikomori" phenomena, although perhaps the current crop of basement-dwelling, Cheetos-eating, underemployed young men constitute our version of it—is one that would be worth exploring in a novel.
added by KelMunger | editLit/Rant, Kel Munger (Jul 24, 2013)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Estranged from the husband who cloistered himself in his bedroom three years earlier after a devastating tragedy, Silke hires a young Japanese woman to draw him back into the world by establishing a deeply intimate relationship with him.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 wanted2 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.8)
1 1
2 1
2.5 1
3 10
4 28
4.5 3
5 5

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,490,351 books! | Top bar: Always visible