Chichiro is the lost, restless love child of a hostess of a nightclub and a local, prominent businessman in a bucolic town outside of Tokyo. Grieving the death of her mother, she moves to the busy city, where she meets Nakajima and finds herself in love for the first time. Only he seems to have more hang-ups than she does. In Banana Yoshimoto's quirky novel, connection—from disconnection—is everything. Even food plays on this theme, offering comfort to her wounded characters. Black tea, for example, is "eloquent enough, it turns out, to change a person's mind." Though you may, on occasion, find yourself playing catch-up about who elusive Chichiro and Nakajima are, what makes The Lake resonate is how these two find happiness in each other despite their distorted lives.
— Carolyn Sun