Amaterasu Takahashi has spent her life grieving for her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo, who were victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
Now a widow living in America, she believes that one man was responsible for her loss; a local doctor who caused an irreparable rift between mother and daughter.
When a man claiming to be Hideo arrives on her doorstep, she is forced to revisit the past; the hurt and humiliation of her early life, the intoxication of a first romance and the realisation that if she had loved her daughter in a different way, she might still be alive today.
I knew I would find reading this book upsetting. The cataclysmic event, which is one of its major themes, made me sure about that, but the sense of loss and marred lives it portrays makes it almost unbearably poignant. The authors knowledge of Japanese culture and society define this story making it authentic and original. The plot is simple but has the necessary twists to keep you turning the pages. It is essentially a story of family.
A legacy of despair and guilt destroys The Takahashi family. Cleverly revealed through letter and journal entries, the reasons for this are deeper than the tragic event of Nagasaki in 1945.
There are dictionary definitions are the start of each chapter, which make what follows easier to understand and enrich the storytelling. Despite the powerful themes of this story it is easy to read and you will want to read every page carefully, to ensure you don’t miss anything.
There is a message of hope and completion in this story which makes it worthwhile reading.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK Cornerstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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