Barbara Jefferson, a young American teaching in Tokyo in the 1960s, is set on a life-changing quest when her Japanese surrogate mother, Michi, dies, leaving her a tansu of homemade plum wines wrapped in rice paper. Within the papers Barbara discovers writings in Japanese calligraphy that comprise a startling personal narrative. With the help of her translator, Seiji Okada, Barbara begins to unravel the mysteries of Michi's life, a story that begins in the early twentieth century and continues through World War II and its aftermath.A thoughtful story about the bombing of Hiroshima and how the survivors continue to be haunted by it, and shamed by their very survival. It also touched on some old folk tales and superstitions about foxes, which I found interesting, since you often see fox statues guarding small shrines here. However, I never really believed in the main relationship between the American woman, and the Japanese man, and through their various secrets and betrayals, so the ending didn't have much of an impact on me as had I been lost in their story. Also, there were several spelling errors and typos that distracted me throughout the book (not part of the 'Japanese English' which was used sometimes on purpose in dialogue. I've taught here long enough that that was amusing, it was when there shouldn't have been any errors that it jarred). All in all, an interesting but flawed story that, in my opinion, didn't quite live up to it's potential.
My Rating: 3/5
(See another review of the book from Bookslut here.)
1st book finished for the From the Stacks Winter Challenge.