Innocent World
By Ami Sakurai (Vertical, 89 pages)

Any book built around the conceit of a dead-eyed, school-age prostitute whose first (and many subsequent) sexual experiences were with her autistic brother is a book that describes a world quite far from "innocent." But Japanese journalist Sakurai – through her brevity and rigorous realism – is not one to shy away from the obvious turn-of-words. In Innocent World, her protagonist is as prone to cliché as she is to deep thought, a trait that's as easily ascribed to translation as it is to the teenage thought process. Innocent World is both thoroughly engaging and thoroughly sordid, and will leave you with equal measures of distaste and sympathy for its characters, thanks to the author's willingness to paint a picture that's as shocking as it is potentially true.