My Solo Exchange Diary Vol 2 by Nagata Kabi
This is a sequel to My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, which off the top, I liked the first one better. And no, this doesn’t have to do with the lower amount of content about sex and sex work. Perhaps I read My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness during a down moment in my own life and could better identify with the loneliness and depression throughout the book.
My Solo Exchange Diary continues to cover loneliness and depression, plus Nagata’s struggles to move from her parents’ home and the changes in her career. This book expands on the career component when it comes to her being out of the closet with her parents and honest about the sexually explicit nature of her work, how she speaks about her family, and in general, being a lesbian. Anyone who’s ever written autobiographical content has struggled with this. It’s extremely pivotal for Nagata that she’s able to move away from her parents’ house and get out from under that dynamic as her family reads and experiences her work.
The first half of the book is focused on the “adult” hurdle of moving out of your family home, but also reconnecting with or making new friends. Nagata realizes part of her emotional dysfunction is relying too much on her family for all her emotional needs. I do wish we had seen more of her with her friends and how those relationships changed, especially as she became famous for her work. Additionally, Nagata’s fame meant she connected more on social media, but there’s still a large detachment from the positive feedback and she mostly worries about not living up to what she believes audience expectations are of her.
One of the most interesting side stories was her venture into forums about her manga. Essentially, people began speculating about her life, and Nagata dives into this word to the detriment of her work. One of the biggest “disappointments” she believes she gives her fans is her inability to move from her family home. Which there was a bit of a miss in how this might’ve helped move her dream into reality by her speaking her goals into her social media.
The second half of this book delves mostly into the relationship Nagata has with her mother. The relationship is extremely toxic, but Nagata works through both her own negative codependency and how her mother’s own unhappiness and depression stems from the abuse at the hands of the grandmother, who also lives in the family home. It was touching to see Nagata come to this realization about her mother, but also, this opened a bunch of questions about the grandmother, who’s barely in the book.
Contrastingly, Nagata has her first date with a nice woman. This woman really likes her, but Nagata realizes she doesn’t have romantic feelings for her. I like how Nagata showed the negotiation of their dating — and writing about the experience — and also how she just didn’t feel that way about the other woman. You could see how Nagata had learned from the distance from her mother how to navigate different feelings and not rely on one person to be everything. Or not believe this woman to be her only dating option ever.
But, overall, when I think about this book, I’m also asking myself if I would read the next volume, and oddly, I don’t think that I would. This story doesn’t quite continue to speak to me, and while I wish Nagata all the best in figuring out her romantic life and her relationships with her family, especially her mother, her autobiographical books won’t be on my to-read list.