Maria's cousin Tsugumi has been frail and weak ever since she was born. Everyone was so worried about Tsugumi, and she was so enchantingly beautiful that she was never corrected or punished for anything. Without limits, Tsugumi was a nasty, rude and even cruel young girl. The fact that she was often very ill and in pain only made her lash out more. Maria and her mother lived with Tsugumi's family in a small oceanside village. Her father lived in Tokyo with his vindictive wife who refused to give him a divorce. He visited Maria and her mother every weekend since Maria was born until she was a teenager. As cruel as Tsugumi i, Maria feels a strong bond between them. She is really the only person who understands Tsugumi, but even she gets frustrated with her humiliating pranks and embarrassing outbursts. Banana Yoshimoto writes with a poetic, nostalgic literary voice. She expresses Tsugumi's intensity caused by her close relationship with death in these terms, "She shone with a look of such utter happiness that you got the feeling she must have sped up the pace of her life somehow, that she was fighting to cram more life into each passing moment. Looking at her you felt a touch of unease-- a feeling that seemed to flicker through the depths of your chest, the way light glimmers through a hole in a cloud." Goodbye Tsugumi is an unusual, delicate and moving story of the relationship of two cousins and our relationship with mortality.