Sand Chronicles - Hinako Ashihara
Genre: Contemporary, Grief, Romance
After her parents get divorced, Ann Uekusa and her mother move from Tokyo to rural Shimane. Accustomed to the anonymity of city living, Ann can't get used to the almost overbearing kindness of the people in her mother's hometown. But when personal tragedy strikes, Ann discovers how much she needs that kindness.
Sand Chronicles is a beautifully illustrated Manga exploring the life of Ann Uekusa, from the ripe young age of 12 to adulthood. After a bad divorce, Ann and her mother are forced to return to the small town of Shimane. On their way, they stop by Nima Sand Museum which houses the one year hourglass. Ann becomes enchanted by its magnificence and even gets a small hourglass from the souvenir shop. It becomes her most prized possession, especially as life start dealing her one lemon after another and tragedy strikes.
The series is formated in seasons corresponding to Ann's age. It starts with the winter she is 12 and continues. Each season we see her growing up and facing new stages in her life. From jealous middle school girls and young love to career troubles, we get to see Ann grow and blossom. This really worked well, especially as time has such a big role in this series.
The books have a serious undertone of grief because of the wound that Ann suffers in the winter she is 12. But it doesn't dwell on that, just like in real life time takes over and moves you along; the series portrays this beautifully. Ann starts out as a bright 12 year old filled with life. She is headstrong and courageous which get her into a lot of scuffles along with our other main character, Diago, Fuji and Shika.
They are all so different, Ann and Diago come from average families. Two crazy kids who start a friendship on the bases of a hare/rabbit. One wants to take it home for stew and the other wants to keep it as a pet. Meanwhile, Fuji and Shika are siblings from the prestigious Tsukishima family. We see all of them grow up into the different lives that they were born to. One of normality and the other of prestige and duty.
I really loved Diago, he is strong and funny and dedicated. His relationship with Ann is tough but even as a young guy he knows what he want from life and how he should treat it. There are some hilarious scenes with him and Ann.
Fuji is the studious older son of a prestigious family, with which comes many responsibilities and pains. Struck by his own demons, Fuji isn't the most friendly but he too is wooed by Ann and that's where the four of them along with the lively Shika, strike a friendship.
The romance in the series is so pure and beautiful. It starts out as a friendship and then blossoms, as the characters grow older in to much more. It's complicated and hard but they work it out.
Overall, Sand Chronicles is one of my all time favourites because it's so realistic. Sometimes it can be overdramatic, but that's needed to make a good story. The characters are all lovable. They do somethings that you won't agree with and you'll notice faults in their character but that's what makes them human. Heart wrenchingly beautiful, this ones a great read for lovers of contemporary.