[Another warning for those who need it: This volume contains a character who has decided he's going to commit suicide, although he ends up not going through with it.]
It's a few years later (I think? I forgot to write it in my notes). Shoya finds Shoko again. He's prepared to take whatever she dishes out, because then he plans to kill himself. Except it seems like she wants to meet again, so he can't die. He clashes with Shoko's mom, who's willing to hate him in Shoko's place, and Yuzuru, Shoko's sister, who also hates him for Shoko's sake. Yuzuru calls herself a boy, specifically Shoko's boyfriend, so she can act as Shoko's protector. She gets Shoya
but he's not really mad, because he feels he's brought this on himself.
Shoko's family is filled with people who want to protect her without asking what she wants. Shoko's mom never listens to her – we saw a prime example of this in volume 1, when she tried to insist that Shoko get a short haircut so that she'd look like a boy, despite Shoko clearly indicating that she wanted a longer cut. Shoko's sister is a bit better, but she can't understand why Shoko doesn't hate Shoya. To be honest, I'm also not entirely sure why she doesn't hate Shoya. She certainly has reason to. I kind of wish Oima let us know more about what she's thinking, because there are times I worry that she'll turn into a stereotypical saintly deaf girl. Thankfully, she does demonstrate that she gets angry, just the same as everyone else, or she wouldn't have fought with Shoya in the previous volume or her sister in this one.
Shoya has been pretty much friendless since the end of volume 1. In this volume, he gains his first friend, Tomohiro. We also learn that Shoya now has a niece that he helps his mother take care of – we still haven't seen Shoya's sister, but apparently she had a kid with the guy she hooked up with in volume 1. I liked seeing signs that Shoya has grown as a person. He's more responsible and less angry, and he actually took the time to learn sign language since the last time he saw Shoko.
The problem is that he doesn't know if he deserves forgiveness and happiness. He doesn't really know what he wants, or what Shoko wants - after all, he thought he'd be dead long before any of these questions became an issue. What is the appropriate outcome here? I'm honestly not sure. I like the guy Shoya is starting to become, even though he still has a long way to go, but that doesn't mean he deserves forgiveness. However, that seems to be the direction Shoko is taking, and, like Shoya, I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Even so, I'm willing to see where Oima's going to go with this. This volume had so much in it, and I felt that Oima handled it all really well, from Shoya's aborted decision to kill himself, to his mother's reaction after she realized what he'd planned to do, to Yuzuru's anger. The only thing that I worry about is Oima's handling of Shoko.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)