Book: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Author: Jackie Copleton
Genre: Cultural Fiction
My Rating: 4 stars
About the Book:
When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?
I love cultural fiction especially those set in Japan. But this book was different from everything else I've read until now because the story revolved around the after effects of the bombing of Nagasaki on one particular family. Kenzo and Amaterasu live a calm peaceful life in Nagasaki with their daughter Yuko until a chance discovery of a drawing sends their life spinning in a direction none of them expected. I really enjoyed reading this book because it was almost like peeling an onion.. peeling each layer just revealed another layer under it - another slight twist in the tale, another direction turned. It was a definite page turner. Copeland's characters are very well defined and the story line has the perfect pace and has no plot holes. Hard to believe that this is a debut novel. With the majority of the novel set against the backdrop of the world war and japan's role in it, a passionate yet forbidden romance, a complicated relationship between a protective mother and her daughter and secrets that could tear relationships apart - this novel appeals to so many of my reading interests. You are pulled in to the solitary life of Amaterasu and slowly discover that there's much much more to her than just the grief that she's been living with.
I very highly recommend this book to anyone interested in cultural fiction, historical fiction and high drama romance novels.