My Brother’s Husband Got Me Where I Live

Is everyone here familiar with the NPR Book Concierge? The most magical and glorious of end-of-year book lists? And I say that as someone who loves end-of-year book lists and never, ever tires of reading through them. The NPR Book Concierge is the The Millions Book Preview of end-of-year book lists. I get so many book recs from it that it is a Problem. Among them this past year was Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband.

My Brother's Husband

It’s about a guy called Yaichi who lives in Tokyo with his daughter, Kana. But their lives change when a large, bearded, lumberjacklike Canadian called Mike shows up at their door, claiming that he is the widow of Yaichi’s recently deceased twin brother, Ryoji. Though Kana falls for Mike immediately, Yaichi struggles with his distaste for homosexuality and his initial disinterest in having a relationship with Mike.

I fell for this book at the immediate point that Yaichi’s delightful-as-hell kid falls for Mike. Her reasoning is that Mike’s from Canada, which sounds like her name, Kana. What an adorable angel — and I say that as someone who hates kidfic (usually) and resents the hell out of adorable moppets on most TV shows in which they appear. But Kana’s easy affection for Mike helps to show Yaichi a path towards having a relationship with his brother-in-law, and even reconsidering the relationship he had (and the one he could have had) with his brother. A grudging respect forms!

What I’m saying is, 2017 was garbage, and maybe your 2018 hasn’t started out perfectly quite yet. (Mine hasn’t because my neck is broken GOD DAMN IT.) If you want something to read that is primarily fluff with moments of sadness mixed in because for God’s sake Ryoji is dead, My Brother’s Husband (vol 1) awaits you.

And if I may slightly brag for a moment here, I find manga extremely intimidating, and My Brother’s Husband was perfectly readable even for me. It was a bit of an adjustment to train my brain to read the book right-to-left, but I MANAGED IT. What I’m saying is that maybe 2018 would be a good year for me to get into manga, as I have experienced such early success. N’est-ce pas?

If you’re a manga enthusiast, give me some recs! What are some good titles for manga beginners?

26 thoughts on “My Brother’s Husband Got Me Where I Live”

  1. I was not familiar with NPR’s Book Concierge, but now I am, drat you. I have to save perusing this for when my book acquisition ban is over, otherwise it will be too painful.

    I am not a manga reader but I’m glad this one was so delightful for you! Sounds like you really needed that (and don’t we all).

  2. I’m not familiar with mango at all — never read it. But this sounds terrific, and I like the idea of training my brain to do something new, like reading right to left. Something appealing about forcing oneself to look at old habits and decide to make a change, you know?

  3. I haven’t tried manga, but I did go look at this one. I’m wondering how it worked to look at the ending at the same time you were looking at a fairly new format – and still be able to decide to read the whole. Obviously, it can be done. I’ll ask my kids, who do read the format.

    The premise is a good one, and the examination of a gay culture that is buried (I grew up in Mexico, where it is equally buried) has huge potential for learning. You have me intrigued.

    1. I think you can do it! It was a slight adjustment, but the book is really pretty friendly and approachable. I didn’t have much problem figuring out some of the major conventions as I was reading — the book does make it easy for you. Give it a try!

  4. Oh, interesting. I need to ask my daughter about this one. She is responsible for the entry into our home of many volumes of manga, though I so far have not succumbed to the allure myself. My husband has, though, and occasionally will be seen working his backwards way through something she has pressed upon him as “extra good”. I’ll see if she has anything to recommend. (I’m sure she does!)

    I need to know, Jenny – is your neck really broken?!!! That sounds deeply unpleasant. Maybe you wrote about that already and I missed it. I hope 2018 gets better for you as it goes along!

  5. Um, was breaking your neck real or metaphorical? Either way, ouch!

    Love the premise of this one; will have to look for it. Yay for you finding a manga you like! We can all use new neuron pathways, right? You just need to find a story that captivates you enough to pull you over the learning curve; I’m glad you found one that worked for you. (I also think it’s great for our brains to get used to other storytelling paradigms, not just format but form, if you know what I mean. It makes you realize that the narratives we think are telling us the truth about our world are just one among many ways of looking at things.)

    I’m still reading the lovely historical fantasy Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn), which is almost done, and Skip Beat, which will go on forever I think (and the two main characters will never admit they love each other!). Now I’m motivated to go looking for another manga you might like!

    1. Alas, it’s real! A car hit me when I was crossing the road in the crosswalk and it was turning left and not paying attention. But I’m basically okay! My neck is broke but it doesn’t require surgery or anything (at least not that anyone has proposed so far) — just ages and ages of wearing the world’s most annoying neck brace.

      I have heard of Skip Beat! I’ve been told Skip Beat is too advanced for me to start with, plus I’m not super sure that my library will have it altogether. A historical fantasy sounds fun though!! I will see if my library’s got it.

  6. That’s crazy, I literally just read this for my local library’s graphic novel discussion group last month! It was so beautifully amazing; when I got to the end and realized it’s volume 1 and volume 2 isn’t out yet, I died inside a little bit. The scene where Kana’s friend’s brother is loitering by the gate? And then Mike comes out to talk to him? OMG. The scene where they talk about hugging!? Apparently hugging isn’t a thing in Japan.

    Seriously, this was the BEST book. I, too, am a manga newbie and found it very readable. What a fun coincidence!

    1. I’m so sad that volume 2 isn’t out yet! And yes, I felt really emotional about all the hugging scenes. I loved that Kana was so excited to get hugs — what a sweet little bean. Did the rest of your discussion group enjoy it too?

  7. Wait, your neck WHAT?! I sure hope that was tongue-in-cheek or you were trying to grab our attention, and not for reals. I admit I’ve been away from the book blogs for a little while- did I miss something. Are you okay, Jenny?

    1. I AM SORRY but it is not tongue-in-cheek! I have talked about it on Twitter but not on the blog, I don’t think. A car hit me when I was crossing the street in a crosswalk, so yeah, my neck is actually broken. Only a little bit broken! I am basically okay!

      1. Oh no Oh no I am so sorry Jenny. What an awful thing to happen. Did the driver get caught. I am SO glad you are alright. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  8. Oh no! Sorry about your injury! Wishing you a safe and speedy recovery. I just heard about this book not too long ago and it’s on my tbr. It sounds great. I’d be happy to give you manga recs Jenny, I’m an avid manga reader. What genres do you like? I can recommend a ton!

  9. So the expert here says these are sure to please, if you were impressed by My Brother’s Husband. She rattled them off so I took notes quickly but didn’t jot down author names. Here you go: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (graphic novel versus series manga?); Wandering Son; The Bride’s Story, and also Emma by the same author. Also if you are looking for a good “steam punk” entry level manga, she says Full Metal Alchemist has a lot going on on different levels. And the manga version of Princess Jellyfish, which I can vouch for in anime form, because I’ve watched the whole thing and it is sweet and very funny. If you want more, she’s got more. But these are supposed to be extra good, off the top of the pile. 🙂

  10. Yeah, I’m a bit confused about that broken-neck comment as well. Whether it’s meant literally or figuratively somehow, I hope you’re feeling better soon! (Do I dare click on the Concierge link?)

    1. You may not wish to click on the Concierge links! They’re so perilous! But yes, I really broke my neck. A car hit me when I was walking back from the bus! I am okay, just frustrated with the nuisance of wearing the brace that you have to wear if your neck is broken. :p

  11. I hope your injury is healing up and isn’t too painful ):

    The first thing you need to know about manga is the genres are suuuuuuuper specific. I’m into vampire romance manga, so I can give you recs on that. Also Emma by Kaoru Mori is awesome if you’re into historical drams like Downton Abbey, etc.

  12. Manga also intimidates me (as really do most graphic novels) BUT this sounds excellent and a storyline I think I could get into

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