Review: I Want to Eat Your Pancreas


Genre: Romance, drama, coming of age

Summary: [Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun enjoyed a simple life until he discovered a diary labeled “Living With Dying.” Reading the first page, he discovers that it belongs to Yamauchi Sakura. Not only is she his classmate, but she is also the most popular girl in school! Knowing her secret now, the realist and the optimist form a strange friendship. They spend her last few months of life together in this first-person story, sharing secrets, lies, and truths that will soon bring them together in this Japanese light novel. (There are mature & triggering themes)


I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: young adult/adult fiction has always enthralled me. So when I was advised I Want To Eat Your Pancreas, I was apprehensive due to the ridiculous title. I decided to give it a shot nonetheless. I was already putting off watching the 2018 film, and now that My older brother had recommended the book to me, I felt I had no choice but to read it. But why was it given that name? And what exactly is a pancreas? Admittedly, I had to look that up. Some people are confused by the title, which is understandable, but as you read the story, you will realize why the book is titled that way. You quickly get the impression that you’ve been let in on an inside joke. You soon feel like you’re let in on an inside joke. The question is, do you want to laugh at it or cry about it? I know that I first laughed and then proceeded to cry my eyes out. It is truly heartbreaking but moving at the same time. Yoru Sumino does a terrific job at pulling the reader’s heartstrings to the point where you feel like the nameless main character. As time passes, you’re falling deeper and deeper in love with Yamauchi Sakura.

I Want To Eat Your Pancreas takes place in Fukuoka, Japan. Sumino does an excellent job fleshing out the two main characters while keeping them enigmatic. The book’s core premise is about two high school students in Japan named Yamauchi Sakura and [Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun (That is not his real name.). They are trying to make the most of Yamauchi’s last few months of life. Yoru Sumino continuously reminds you that their time is limited – a way of saying, “Don’t get too connected to Yamauchi Sakura.”. As we continue to read about her adventures with the main character, we, as the reader, can’t help but do the very thing we shouldn’t: we get attached to the girl, and every time we forget she’ll die, we are reminded by her in the form of a morbid joke, that she only has three more months to live. Three months to live, translated into 275 pages, and all we can do is sit back and watch it unfold.

Character development in a book has always attracted me. And when a character is aware of their weaknesses, the novel tends to improve. In terms of their view on life, the two main characters appear to be opposites. Sakura (which means cherry blossom in Japanese) is more vibrant than her new friend, who is fatalistic about Sakura’s circumstances. And that is all that is important. These two characters lift the book from a light novel to a moving, tear-jerking story of two people discovering peace within one other by chance. No other character holds significance other than Yamauchi Sakura and [Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun. The story: I Want To Eat Your Pancreas only revolves around these two. And when I first read the book, I never noticed how character-packed most books are, so reading this was refreshing.

[Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun is interesting to me. Describing him is somewhat tricky. He is often portrayed as someone who does not care about outward appearances and what people think about him. However, almost every little thing he does makes him question what his classmates would think about him and his relationship with Yamauchi. Nevertheless, it is not like he is entirely oblivious to this fact; he knows to the extent that he is a hypocrite and subconsciously cares about what people think of him but is too lazy – or even content – with his life to change. As I continued to read this book, I started to feel more and more for this character, to the point where I was fully invested in his mediocre life, which revolved around a dying girl and the books in his room. I will not lie; I smiled when he admitted to laughing at Yamauchi or smiling to amuse her. But – and I feel like this with many other books – I also hated it. Not because I did not want him to be happy. Truthfully I did; I just hated that he was doing it so that she could be satisfied. It made me think that the happiness he showed his classmate was a lie. Furthermore, as someone who was just a reader, it was irritating to see someone constantly lie. And regrettably, I had to deal with it.

While I continued to read the novel, I noticed that the relationship between the two went far past their morbid jokes or the constant questions about the meaning of life. They cared for each other, and that was amazing to see. It was something that seemed so unreal but so realistic at the same time, to the point where I expected a happy ending or something to make me smile at the end. Throughout the book, their relationship will make you smile – laugh sometimes – but also make you want to cry. For example, one of my favorite scenes in the book as they are going to a hotel together. In this hotel, the realism of Sakura dying became a reality for [Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun. This all happens because she asks for her medicine in the shower, leading him to open her bag and find “…A number of syringes, more pills than I’d ever seen in my life, and some kind of test machine I had no idea how to use.” (Sumino, 115). He goes on to say, “My mind wanted to shut down, but I somehow forced myself to keep thinking. I already knew her disease was real.” Those words he spoke not only made her situation real for him, but it did for me as well. The fact that she would die was finally embedded into my head. Yamauchi Sakura would pass away because of her illness, and I couldn’t do anything about it. After this point, you can see that the “optimist” Yamauchi Sakura was also a liar. Her constant jokes about death weren’t something to laugh about but a way to escape the pain and hurt she was feeling.

“I want to eat your pancreas” When I figured out what that meant, I felt like this entire book was meant to break you. “I want to eat your pancreas” – Such a silly sentence that could translate so many emotions and slam into you like a truck. These two teenagers didn’t want the life they were living but had to make do with it. Sakura didn’t want to die, nor did [Classmate Who Knows My Secret]-kun wished to know that she would die. The painful reminder of that was constantly haunting him. This random girl changed his whole world, and to see that she was going to be taken away, of course, had to hurt. The one person who gave him the time of day would leave in a limited time, an inside joke based on a tragedy. But that sentence isn’t what got me. “Can I cry now?” Four powerful words. Too powerful for an explanation. But that is heartbreaking. You see him slowly change due to this ill girl in the most beautiful way.

I wish other people would look past the title and read the book. It made me smile, laugh, and cry so many times. And as I said, I’m a long-going fan of young adult/adult novels, and I Want To Eat Your Pancreas did not disappoint. I admit this book was funny, but it still was a tear-jerker. It is a heart-wrenching tale that will make you appreciate the friends you have and the life you live. Whether you’re dying or a pessimist, this book is terrific. And it would most definitely make you appreciate the small things.