Fiction, Historic Fiction, Japan
May 28th 2019
March 24, 2021 March 29, 2021
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Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.
America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.
Inspired by true stories, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
About the book
The Woman in the White Kimono is a poignant story, which speaks of a rather sad piece of world history. We are in Japan in 1957, therefore after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with American domination still in progress. But Americans aren’t just invasors and bad people, some are good guys who enrolled in the army while still minors to escape the monotony of their lives. Here we meet Naoko who, together with a friend, meets an American, one day as she returns from school. She calls him Hajime because if her family learns that she has fallen in love with a gaijin (外人), a foreigner, she will surely be prevented from meeting him. But when her father decides it’s time for her to get married, she gets the opportunity to introduce her boyfriend to her family before being forced to marry her father’s chosen suitor, Satoshi.
Things are obviously not going well also because Hajime shows up in American uniform and the family still has a “hate” mentality over the Americans.
Things get complicated when Naoko discovers she is pregnant and has to make choices that are often imposed on her.
The story, however, is not focused only on the past, because in fact the story starts in the present with Tori Kovač, an American journalist who, looking after her sick father, finds a letter with a Japanese address and her father on his deathbed will reveal something about a rather shocking past. So she leaves for the land of the Rising Sun to discover a world that was unknown to her.
What I think
I’m crying like a baby! Being empathetic unfortunately sometimes hurts.
It is known that war damages not only things, but I did not know this reality. Just as I did not know the reality of the book How We Disappeared. This story is also an implication of the war, but we are in the past and I don’t find it right to look for blame. Or rather, we must look ahead and not only look to the past to “hate” a race because people have changed. Obviously we must not forget what happened, giving a voice to the story of the victims as the author did, is right. But don’t have to take a book story to hate a race. We just need to learn from the past.
I can only say that I loved the book, I loved Naoko and the author’s settings. Being a lover of Japan I often found myself on Google Maps looking for places and wanting to know more.
The characters may be invented but they are based on real people so I don’t feel the right to judge how they are presented because they are not 100% invented by the author, so I don’t feel like judging what the author makes them to do.
In short, I don’t feel like saying I loved Naoko for what she did or I hated Hajime or the family for what they did because I have my beliefs that are based on my living in the 2000s and the values have changed. Do I find it right what these families do to these girls? With my mentality of course I say no, but I haven’t lived through those years and therefore I cannot fully judge the families.
But I loved Naoko’s strength, Satoshi’s acceptance, Hajime’s regret and Tori’s persistence to know the truth.
The chapters are not long and the book is very “flowy”, there are cultural references to Japan that interest me a lot and reading the book I must say that I fell in love with this culture even more. The words used in its stories are so beautiful they can heal. (and I’m still crying)
I am glad I read this book. Thanks to the author for writing this story and thanks to Kindle Unlimited for reccomend me the book. I kept seeing it as a recommendation for weeks, but never took it into consideration. Now I am happy I did.
And the covers, both this one and the paperback one, are wonderful.