REVIEW: ‘The Miracles of the Namiya General Store’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store

When a book starts off by telling you that it has sold over 14 million copies on the front cover, the bar for quality is already set quite high. Not only did The Miracles of the Namiya General Store meet my lofty expectations, it vastly exceeded them.

Written by Keigo Hegashino, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store was brought to English-speaking audiences by Yen Press and translator Sam Bett. The story is broken up into five chapters, and does not contain any illustrations like many of the novels published by Yen Press. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a traditional novel, and not considered a “light novel“. The book has even spawned both Japanese and Chinese film adaptations, with the latter starring Jackie Chan.

The story starts from the perspective of three criminals, Atsuya, Shota and Kohei, who are on the run and looking for somewhere to hide. They stumble across an abandoned store, which we come to find out is the Namiya General Store. As the three of them discuss their next moves, a mysterious letter comes through the door asking for advice. What the group had not realized upon entering the store was that it had a long history of providing advice for many over the years. People seeking advice needed to simply leave a letter through the slot, and a response would be left in the milk box out back. The group decides to write back with advice, and that’s when the story begins to take a wild turn.

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store establishes in the first chapter that time works differently in the store, and the way Hegashino uses this to tell a complex story is incredibly fascinating. Each chapter begins from the perspective of a different character from a different point in time. In time, however, each character ends up connected to the Namiya General Store in some way. We meet a hopeful Olympic athlete dealing with the incoming death of her partner, a musician struggling with whether or not to give up on his dreams, as well as the proprietor of the Namiya General Store, Yūji Namiya. Every single character has their own distinct story, and they all seem completely unrelated at first. In the end, they all find themselves learning from the wisdom of Yūji Namiya.

What stood out for me the most in The Miracles of the Namiya General Store was just how personal every character and interaction felt. While the premise of time traveling letters seems odd at first, by the end of the story it felt so real that I would have believed anyone telling me it was a true story. Yūji Namiya is not a powerful or prestigious man, he simply began answering silly questions for the youth that came to his store. Once the questions began to get more serious, he felt like it deserved his heartfelt answer. From there, countless others felt safe asking him for advice and he always took the time to answer. I found Yūji Namiya to be the most fascinating and inspirational character in anything I’ve read or watched in a very, very long time. The stories of how he managed to help people, both as himself and through the three criminals, are full of such passion and care. I found myself sucked into each page, and by the end found myself mourning the death of the fictional owner of the fictional store and inspired by the legacy he left.

Ultimately, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a story about our struggles giving us an unexpected way to unite. Seemingly meaningless moments in time snowball into life saving efforts, and the message the book gives is one of compassion and care for our fellow humans. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired, and it is no surprise it has been such a worldwide success. It is easily one of my all-time favorites now, and you won’t regret giving it a read.

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is available now wherever books are sold.

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
5

TL;DR

Ultimately, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a story about our struggles giving us an unexpected way to unite. Seemingly meaningless moments in time snowball into life saving efforts, and the message the book gives is one of compassion and care for our fellow humans. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired, and it is no surprise it has been such a worldwide success. It is easily one of my all-time favorites now, and you won’t regret giving it a read.