Between the title and the cover photo, I knew I wanted to read Yakuza Moon when I first read about it on Reuters. The article was brief, but the author's tattoo instantly intrigued me - I had to know more. I picked it up for my upcoming Hawaii vacation, but alas, I couldn't resist it; and ended up finishing it in two days. It's about 190 pages, but it was so compelling I just could not put it down. It was written in Japanese and translated, which makes me wonder if there was contextual or cultural references that might not be apparent; but it didn't make it any less enjoyable. In fact, if anything I'm more intrigued about the author after having read it, in that I want to know more about her present life (as the book is more about her past.)
I'll give one caveat though, it's a fairly graphic representation of her life as the daughter of a yakuza boss. She spares little details about her abusive boyfriends and teenage drug usage, and if that bothers you - this might not be the book for you. For me though, it was a window to a world I had no previous knowledge of. I've never experienced the violence Tendo went through, but I've certainly felt isolated and alone; I've certainly been bullied, and manipulated (though again, not to the same extent.)
No matter who you are, it can be so tough to find who you are and where your happiness is. This book is about Shoko Tendo's search for herself, within the midst of the circumstances she was born into. I'm so glad I read it, and I highly recommend it. I think everybody struggles with their identity, the real tricky part is never letting go of who you are, no matter what that is - and especially no matter what people might say about you.