I read Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto in original Japanese.
Maria is a narrator of this story. She has been raised by her mother who is a mistress to Maria's father. She is thoughtful and matured for her age in spite of the circumstances. Upon the marriage of mother and father and her entrance to university, her family moves to Tokyo leaving the memory in the seaside town.
Maria has grown with Tsugumi and Tsugumi's sister Yoko. They are cousins. Tugumi has been so frail since her birth that her parents thoroughly spoiled her by giving in. She is outrageous; she is pale but beautiful, she is mean and rebellious, she provokes fights and lies constantly to leave people around her miserable. While she is so to her familiar people, she is soft and sweet in public. She has double aspects. Maria has disliked her but they become real friends after an incident. Maria admires her at times because Tsugumi can be amazingly kind and true to herself even in the middle of disaster, and is full of energy despite her lifelong illness.
One summer, Maria goes back to her hometown and a bittersweet incident happens. What happens? How will be their frindship? How will Tsugumi's health? I will stop the introduction of this story here. Enjoy reading to see what's going on if you feel inclined to.
I've been a fan of Banana Yoshimoto's books since I read "Kitchen." She shows something fascinating and moving in small things and mundane everyday life with her poetic prose.