Siken-tei: One aspect of the national character of the Japanese is shame culture, in which people are more afraid of shame than sins. Fear of being held in disrepute by society gives the individual an adequate reason for refraining from acts offensive to public morals. Sensitive to criticism from others, Japanese people take much account of the public eye and mind what the world says about them.
An elegant mysterious prose of a mother’s love for her only daughter. Amaterasu Takahashi in her love for her daughter Yuko, only wants peace for her. She knows her daughter will not have peace if her daughter’s affair with an old family friend Sato continue. Yuko and Sato have a connection that is haunting and engaging. Yuko yearns to recognize love and knows that she has found it in Sato who is married. When her parents discover the affair, Amaterasu reminds Sato of the past to deter his pursuit of Yuko and quickly finds another man to replace Sato. The Japanese practicality is that marriage is not about love but that lasting love is built on time. It is painstakingly that Yuko finds friendship in Natsu and she learns to let go of the love she has for Sato.
Natsu and Yuko have a son Hideo. It is during the WWII the family is pulled apart and Amaterasu looses her daughter and grandson during the pikadon (the bombing). After so much pain Amaterasu and her husband go to America to escape the pain and the memories along with the secrets that keep Amaterasu burdened. It is only when a badly scarred man comes to her door claiming to be her grandson, does she re-live what she has hidden so long.
The narration is told in 3 different ways using excerpts from An English Dictionary of Japanese Culture, the diary of Yuko and the heart of her mother Amaterasu.
This is so far my best read for 2016 as it has a clear voice speaking of Japanese culture (one that is prevalent to me since my mother-in-law came to the United States during the late 50’s and I just knew she had secrets of her own. She was a wonderful mother in law and grandma to my two girls to which she shared her heritage to them.) The description of the pikadon was gripping and a reminder of the cost of war and what depravity man is capable of. The narration is spell binding. I loved it.
A Special Thank You to Penguin Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.