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My Solo Exchange Diary - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published July 14th 2018
Nagata Kabi delivers another heartbreaking and honest book
My Solo Exchange Diary
Nagata Kabi

Nagata Kabi's autobiographical debut manga, My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, became a viral sensation when it was released in 2017. The book followed Nagata around as she struggled to deal with her mental health problems, her realisation that she identified as a lesbian, her difficulty in finding a job and her troubled relationship with her parents.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness was a commercial success and resonated with a lot of people who felt that they could identify with Nagata's feelings of loneliness and her confusion about her sexuality, love and relationships.

My Solo Exchange Diary is the much-anticipated sequel that gives readers another glimpse into the life of celebrated manga artist and storyteller Nagata Kabi.

My Solo Exchange Diary picks up after My Lesbian Experience left off. The book is written as a diary. Each chapter begins with Nagata writing "Dear Nagata Kabi," and then responding to herself with "Hello, this is Nagata Kabi." The diary is a solo exchange between her future self and her past self.

In the diary, Nagata talks about the things she did months before, like the time she burnt through all of her savings and the moment when her publisher called and offered her the chance to write a series of personal essays. She asks her past self-questions about life, criticises her past decisions, and questions why she cannot let herself be happy and enjoy her small accomplishments.

The real interesting part of My Solo Exchange Diary is how Nagata reacts to the success of her book and the decisions that she makes in the aftermath of its release.

The most heartbreaking part of the book are the parts between Nagata and her mother. Nagata wants nothing more than for her parents to be proud of her achievements and is absolutely desperate, starving almost, for their approval.

It takes Nagata some time to realise that she needs to stop measuring herself up to others and that she has to start putting her own happiness first instead of worrying about others.

Nagata takes some healthy, important steps in this book toward becoming an independent and confident adult. The book can be brutally sad in parts, like when Nagata talks about the time she tried to end it all by cutting her neck with scissors but failed to cut deep enough. She also talks about her parents and the lack of love she feels toward them and the coldness they feel toward her.

Nagata ends her book by writing in her diary, "How are you doing out there in the future?"

I'm looking forward to reading more about Nagata Kabi and her adventures navigating the world of young adulthood in the second volume of My Solo Exchange Diary which is due to come out early next year.
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Why? My Solo Exchange Diary is the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed autobiographical manga My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.
Where: Available from your local bookstore or online retailer
Cost: $14.99 - $27.99
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