Anyway, the plot focuses on two different people: Renee, a 54-year old concierge of an eight-apartment building for the rich, stating in her second journal entry: "I am a widow, I am short, ugly, and plump, I have bunions on my feet and, if I am to credit certain early mornings of sefl-inflicted disgust, the breath of a mammoth;" and then we have Paloma, an amazingly smart 12 1/2 year old girl occupying one of the apartments with her mother, diplomat father, and obnoxious sister (all whom she promptly cuts down to size), loves haiku poems, and plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday by setting her apartment on fire and taking an overdose of sleeping pills while no one is around.
Both characters share very intelllectual minds, embrace Japanese culture, keep closeted their superior minds over society, and write in journal entries social, artistic, theological, philosophical, and cultural criticisms and commentaries and finely detailed happenings in their building. When a new resident arrives, a Japanese gentlemen titled Monsieur Ozu, both persons' lives and plans are put into completely new environments in which they find themselves exposed and beginning to look at things anew.
I suppose this would be a read more for college students or something, but I was truly able to enjoy this book. Even though I refused to pull out a dictionary every time I came across unknown words, I was able to feel everything. It's funny, scornful, elightening, and also inspiring.
You can most definitely find this in Borders or Barnes & Nobles and Jo Beth recently brought it into the IMC. It has praise from numerous magazines and newspapers, national and foreign, and is oficially an international bestseller. I'd have to put this up as one of the greatest books I've ever read.