Book Review: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa


Book cover image taken from

The book: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Ben Constable.

Summary: Benjamin Constable is a British banker in France, spending his free time writing. He has an interesting relationship with a Japanese-American woman named Tomomi Ishikawa. Ben is left dizzy and lost after she sends him a letter explaining she has killed herself. From then on, clues send him on a treasure hunt — a great adventure — to learn about Tomomi’s life after she has passed.


My feelings on the author: I think I hate Benjamin Constable the writer. Not because I think he is a terrible writer, or any other ridiculous lie. I hate Benjamin Constable the writer for what he has done to me. This isn’t even my writing style and yet, I can’t hear any other words in my head. His are still stuck in mine.  By the end of the book you’re convinced that Benjamin Constable the writer may have just had a drink with you and told you the story from his own mouth. I’m half-sure there will be more novels from him and I don’t think I will like to read them. Any other ideas from his head will most likely scare the shit out of me. I suppose people who read his novel will say Mr. Constable’s writing is brilliant. It’s not though. His idea is brilliant, the premise is brilliant, but the writing is microscopic truth. The writing is beautiful, and specific, and simple. And I’m going to start seeing an imaginary cat everywhere I go — not because I’m crazy, but because it’s a lovely idea.


What I liked about the novel: There is no putting this book down. You open the first page and you’re confused. You read more and you’re still confused, but now curious. By the time you get to the premise of the novel, you realize the next several hours will be lost to these chapters. I like the humor between the lines, and the dark in the character’s minds, and the light in their intentions. I like Benjamin Constable the character and I even enjoy Tomomi Ishikawa. In fact, it is Tomomi Ishikawa who makes you read more. Just like Ben, you are flipping page after page, following along in this scavenger hunt through Paris and NYC, and you’re flippin’ tired, but you have to see how it ends.


What I didn’t like about the novel: There is no putting this book down. Tomomi Ishikawa is an addiction, and you are sucked into her gruesome life along with Ben. By the closure of the book you are clawing for resolution. (I guess I should go back up and add under the “likes” that Benjamin Constable the writer does not disappoint when it comes to resolution). The only real negative thing I have to say is that every setting in books feels foreign to me, whether I know the place or not, and I don’t know the streets of Paris or NYC to relate. So here I admit, I skimmed the directions and locations quite a bit because I couldn’t place them and they belong to people who know them. For me, they remain confusing and maze-like and served their purpose for getting lost with Ben.


Would I recommend the novel: Yes, abso-friggin-lutely.You’re a moron if you don’t read this novel, and I will not-so-silently judge you if you don’t love the book as much as I do. I have never read a book quite like this — as frustrating, as honest, as thought-provoking. Maybe it has been done before, but I’ve never found one, making it the only one like it in the world to me. It is exquisite, and exciting, and several other adjectives starting in “ex”. It leaves you thinking about life and your perspective of it against someone else’s. It creates the imprint that you and I, mostly me, know nothing while knowing a lot, and what is real versus what is perceived real is indeterminable. And there’s more, there’s just few words for more and Mr. Constable the writer is much better at them. What I’m trying to say is: Go buy the freakin’ book.

If the real Benjamin Constable (oh god, what is real?), or his agent, or his team from Simon and Schuster ever ACTUALLY read my little, silly review, I would probably be embarrassed. I am curious to find out who the author is and what in the story is real. But, then it might shatter the illusion and the point of the novel — which makes it even better. Since I don’t really hate him at all, it would be safer just to ask him to sign a copy one day at a convention or something, and thank him for the great lesson in adventure and reality.  Or maybe… I’ll just write a review saying I’ll do it.

Do you plan on reading this book?

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