Thank you B. Jeanne Shibahara for sending this book to me! I am providing my honest review to you all on my blog in exchange!
“In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.”
Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”
This book was hard to define in simple terms, I did really enjoy it, especially at around page 25 I think something just really really clicked for me. There were elements here that I typically enjoy in a book, the history of things, the going back and forward of thinking of the past and progressing in the present, these are always huuuuuge pluses for me.
This story is more than just about Meryl, and in fact, the quote at the top of the blurb is my favorite in the book and is said by my favorite character, Ms. Kawanishi. The landscapes that Shibahara describe are utterly beautiful and it makes you want to go hop on a plane and go explore Japan. There’s an ample cast of characters and they’re all a variety of personalities.
Shibahara not only does a great job describing gorgeous locations, she also has a rather poetic or lyrical style! It actually took me a little while to get into it but it’s something I enjoyed after adapting to it [Note, probably about 25 is when I got used to the rhythm of it.]
The book is about finding love and about letting go of those we love as well. Meryl is delivering a flag to a man’s family who never thought they would get him home again, but she’s bringing them a beautiful chance while also dealing with the fact that despite her love for her husband she couldn’t condone everything he did and it makes her connect with the man she’s bringing home and his family. An unknowing level where thoughts are shared between her and the family as they have to face the brutality of what war cost in a time of peace.
There were some small issues, I wasn’t sure I always appreciated some of the stereotypes of some of the characters, or always completely enjoyed Meryl but as I said my favorite character was Ms. Kawanishi anyway, and I really thought this book was just a very lush one in its details of Japan and elsewhere. I would definitely recommend to those who like Eat, Pray, Love, Under the Tuscan Sun, or The Sandalwood Tree. Not to mention the covers both front and back are absolutely lovely as you can tell from the featured image, front on the left, back on the right.
I enjoyed this and I foresee myself reading it again in the next couple of years and I am already planning on sending it to my sister who I think will really enjoy it too. [But her own copy damn it cause she doesn’t understand what the word borrow means] This go around I didn’t want to put a rating, I want you all to read the review and decide for yourself if you’d like to give it a read and if you want to discuss it more with me feel free to reach out to me!