Sand Chronicles vol. 8 - Hinaki Asihara
Twelve-year-old Ann and her divorced mother move from big city Tokyo to her mother's rural hometown. How will Ann survive her exile from civilization? Then, when her mother commits suicide, Ann has to grow up fast. As the years pass, Ann learns to trust and depend on her new friends--Daigo and aristocratic siblings Fuji and Shika. But when Ann moves back to Tokyo to be with her father, will she be able to maintain a long-distance relationship with Daigo? And do Fuji and Shika harbor romantic feelings of their own that might rip their childhood friendships apart...?
Can the sands of time heal all wounds? Can the sands of time bury the pains of the past? Revisiting scenes and people from earlier days drives Ann to an impulsive act of desperation. Who will stand by her now? And will she ever make peace with her past...and herself? (courtesy of Goodreads)
*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.
This is the last volume of the story Sand Chronicles. Volumes 9 and 10 are bonus volumes. Volume 7 ends and Volume 8 begins with Ann in a bad place. She just broke off her engagement with Sakura. She doesn't seem upset about this in particular, but it rekindled all the pain and insecurity that she's been hiding from for years. She's on a train traveling to Nima to see the giant hourglass she visited with her mother so many years ago. On the way she stops in Okayama, the city where Daigo teaches. She goes to the playground of his school on a whim and hears from a student that Daigo is getting married soon.
When Ann gets to Nima, she discovers that the hourglass museum is closed! Poor Ann...nothing goes right for her. She goes to a nearby beach, devastated that she can't visit the museum but mostly devastated about life in general. She finds some broken glass and slits her wrist. When she nearly passes out from the blood loss, she realizes that she doesn't want to die and cause everyone so much pain...but it's too late.
Ann wakes up in the hospital. She was saved at the last moment. As awful as it was, the suicide attempt is good for Ann. It's the impetus she needs to find her internal strength. She returns to life, determined to get back to normal and be strong. And she does much better.
But Daigo's always there. They meet again when Ann travels back to Shimane. Ann is different with him. She congratulates him on his upcoming marriage. She's happy for him. Able to move on. Daigo says there's not going to be a marriage. It was just a rumor. Instead, Daigo wants to get back with Ann. Now it's Ann who says it'll never work. Daigo tells her it can and all Ann needs to do is make Daigo happy. The shoe is on the other foot now...it's Daigo who will rely on Ann. Daigo says that just by being there, Ann makes him happy. And they live happily ever after. I'm doing a horrible job of summarizing this scene. I'll just say that it's incredibly touching and beautiful. It made me teary even on a second read.
I'm sad to see the formal story of Sand Chronicles end. Even though it's overdramatic, it's a fabulous realistic fiction story. The characters are well-developed and the love story is timeless. I highly recommend it.