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Four Life Lessons From Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before We Say Goodbye

Four Life Lessons From Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before We Say Goodbye

Imagine you could travel to the past for a few minutes. Who would you go see? What would you say to them? Toshikazu Kawaguchi returns with Before We Say Goodbye, the latest standalone book in his Before The Coffee Gets Cold series.

Set in Tokyo, Japan, patrons of Café Funiculi Funicula can travel back in time and reunite with loved ones. But there are rules: they can’t actually change the present. And they can only stay for the time it takes for a cup of coffee to get cold. They risk becoming a ghost if they don’t finish drinking the coffee before it gets cold.

Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot) features four new customers. Four new situations that touch our hearts, whether or not we can relate to them. So here are four lessons we learned from reading Before We Say Goodbye!

Cover of Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Image Source: HarperCollins Publishers

Book Overview

Content Warnings: death, animal death, grief and loss depiction

Summary: The regulars at Café Funiculi Funicula are well acquainted with the whimsical ability it grants them to take a trip into the past—as well as the strict rules involved, including that each traveler must return to the present in the time it takes for their coffee to get cold. In Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novels, patrons have been reunited with old flames, made amends with estranged family, and visited loved ones. Now readers will once again be introduced to a new set of visitors.

  • The Husband With Something Important Left To Say
  • The Woman Who Couldn’t Bid Her Dog Farewell
  • The Woman Who Couldn’t Answer A Proposal
  • The Daughter Who Drove Her Father Away

The Husband – Appreciate Your Partner

Our first story in Before We Say Goodbye is about Monji Kadokura, a husband who wants to travel to the time before his wife, Mieko, fell into a coma. He realizes he didn’t properly appreciate what she did as a wife and mother. Monji only pursued his career in archaeology without spending time at home with Mieko and their three children. And now that his wife is in a coma, he doesn’t get the chance to tell her until he visits the cafe.

The Dog – It’s Okay To Forgive Yourself

In this story, a woman named Sunao Hikita comes to the cafe hoping to go back and visit her dog, Apollo, before he dies. She and her husband took turns watching over their thirteen-year-old golden retriever in his final moments. But Apollo passes when Sunao accidentally falls asleep watching him, and she blames herself for leaving him to die alone. Her trip to the past lets her say goodbye and gives her the comfort and space to forgive herself.

The Proposal – Follow Your Happiness Today

The third story is about Hikari Ishimori, a woman who wants to travel to the day her boyfriend, Yoji Sakita, proposes to her. Hikari initially rejected him, asking him to wait until she was ready. But they break up six months later, and Yoji dies shortly after their breakup. Hikari returns to the past to properly tell him her feelings and understand why they really broke up before his death.

The Daughter – Try To Understand Your Parents

Our last story in Before We Say Goodbye follows Michiko Kijimoto, a student who regrets acting cruelly toward her father, Kengo. After Michiko’s beloved mother dies, Michiko begins to resent Kengo’s nagging and meddlesome tendencies, and she turns him away when he tries to visit her. But when her father died in the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Michiko realized how selfish and ungrateful she’d been. She wants to go back and apologize to him before it’s too late.

With poignant stories of love, loss, grace, and grief, Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi reaffirms that reading can be a form of therapy for us.

See Also

Before We Say Goodbye by Toshikazu Kawaguchi is out on November 14. You can preorder a copy of it here!

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