As always: spoilers (might be) abundant!
So first, I've got to put this out there...was anyone surprised when Naoka offed herself? Did anyone else feel (slightly) relieved?
Okay, now that that's out there....
I have to admit, the end swayed me from rating this a two star book. Instead, it gets a solid three stars. There were moments when I just knew that Mr. Murakami just got it. Life that is. And all of its Despair that goes along with it. I'm still on the fence that someone would encounter THAT many people who would commit suicide, but who knows. I don't think that's the real point of the book, you know? Rather, I've grown accustomed to thinking each of the deaths as a representation.  But more importantly, I feel that this is a book that is filled with unreliable narratives. And having THAT mindset, I enjoyed the ending much more.
I think it's safe to say that we all loved Midori. Man she had the patient of a saint didn't she? But that whole convo where she's like, if I'm thinking more about you than my BF then there's a problem. And of course, BF agreed, so breaking up with him just seemed to make sense.
I read the afterward...or rather, the translator's note. I found it interesting that Murakami considered this a love story. Because I didn't get that at all. But I wonder if I walked into it thinking that it was a love story, my perception would have been different. I can finally see how it's a coming of age story. There is a lot of growing up going on. I can see Toru's struggle with his desires and his honor (and by honor, I mean, him honoring Naoko and his promise to her. And I think he finally got angry when he told the ghost of his friend he always had her.
I just finished reading a review on Goodreads that clarified some things for me. I'm too dense to figure out how to link the actual review, but if you go to the Norwegian Wood page it's the first review. One thing in particular that I didn't consider because of course I put things in perspective of my own universe, is the rate of suicide in Japan. And after a quick search, Japan recently has one of the highest suicide rates. I imagine in the 60's and 70's it was higher. So maybe how I associate certain drug usage as a staple in American college culture, the conflict of suicide is common in Japan. #ignorance
I might eventually change my whole view of this book the longer it settles. I'm also drinking wine right now so that might add to my acceptance.
[I'm still working on this theory and might need to mull it over a wee bit longer to figure out what each represent]