Gail Tsukiyama is one of my favorite authors. She writes small, elegant books that always manage to touch my heart and make me think about the beauty and meaning of life.
In Dreaming Water we meet Hana, a young woman dying of Werner's syndrome, a disease that causes a person to age at twice the normal rate. Hana lives with her mother Cate, a widow in her early sixties who looks as if she is Hana's child. Over the course of two days we learn about Cate and Hana's life, both present and past, and of their strength in dealing with an illness that changes everything.
Although the main subject of this book is Hana's illness we also come to learn about her parent's marriage, her mother the child of old world Italian immigrants and her father a Japanese American 'detained' at Heart Mountain, an internment camp where his family was sent for their 'safety' during WWII. We also learn of Hana's lifelong friendship with Laura whose own life is falling apart. She has come to visit Hana bringing her teenage daughters with her, to meet the Godmother they don't know.
While reading this book one is aware that there will be no happy ending. Despite the sadness that permeates the story there is also a spirituality to the book, in accepting one's fate and making a life that is the best that it can be. Overall is the story of a mother's love and devotion to her child, of facing immeasurable heartache with strength and determination.
I had read Women of the Silk and Language of the Threads, and really liked them, so I was anxious to read another of Tsukiyama's books. I liked this book, but it was different than her others. The characters are interesting, and the insight each of them give makes you think. I enjoyed it.
Dreaming Water is an exploration of two of the richest and most layered human connections that exists: mother and daughter and lifelong friends.
Hana is suffering from Werner's Syndrome, a disease that makes a person age at twice the rate of a healthy individual: at 38, Hana has the appearance of an 80. Cate, her mother, is caring for her while struggling with her grief at losing her husband, Max, and with the knowledge that Hana's disease is getting worse by the day.
Hana and Cate's days are quiet and ordered. Cate escapes to her beloved garden and Hana reads and writes letters. Both are drawn into the past, remembering the joyous and challenging events that have shaped them; spending the days at Max's favorite beach, overcoming their neighbor's prejudices that Max was Japanese-American and Cate, Italian-American and coping with the heartbreak of discovering Hana's disease.
One of the great joys of Hana's life has been her relationship with her beautiful, successful best friend, Laura. Laura has moved to New York from their hometown in California and has two daughters, Josephine and Camille. She has not been home in years and begs Hana to let her bring her daughters to meet her, feeling that Josephine in particular, needs to have Hana in her life. Despite Hana's latest refusal, Laura decides to come anyway. When Laura's loud, energetic, and troubled work collides with Hana and Cate's daily routine, the store really begins.
This is about a mother's courage, a daughter's strength, and a friend's love. It is about the importance of human dignity and the importance of all the small moments that create a life worth living.
Nicely reviewed by Library Journal (found at amazon):
From Library Journal
Tsukiyama's fifth novel details a short span in the life of Cate and Hana, a mother and daughter coping with the onslaught of Werner's Syndrome. This syndrome, which ages a person abnormally, makes Hana look and feel 80 rather than 38. Yet she yearns for all the good things that life will never bring her, and Cate, recovering from the sudden death of her husband, cares lovingly for Hana. When Hana's best friend, Laura, arrives with her teenaged daughters to visit, Hana has a chance to reconnect with this troubled woman after a long absence. Laura and her children are able to help Hana and Cate face the future's uncertainties, while at the same time Hana and Cate discover that they are able to help Laura's girls grow up in numerous unseen ways. Tsukiyama (Women of the Silk) writes beautifully about courage and love, showing us the importance of daily kindnesses and highlighting the beauty found in the relationships among mothers, daughters, and friends. Highly recommended. Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD
Gail Tsukiyama has a vivid way of writing. She makes you feel comfortable with the people she introduces you to immediately. It's almost as if you know the characters of her story personally. This story is touching, compassionate, loving and sometimes funny. I love her books, and hope she continues to write more.
Highly readable novel about a girl who has a congenital condition that makes her grow old at more than twice the rate of normal people. Told from the point of view of the character as well as her mother and others, this book gave insight into the vast range of emotions that can accompany a very unusual physical ailment such as this.
I have found a new favorite author! This book has the spareness of the Orient, as Gail seems to be Japanese. At least her characters are at least half Japanese. This book is about a girl (Hana) with Werner's Syndrome, which makes her body age at twice the normal rate. She becomes quite old and frail at the age of 36, and her father Max(full Japanese) has died, so she lives alone with her mother, and they both fall into routines of life. This routine, which has begun to become stale, is livened by the visit of Laura and her two girls, Josephone (13) and Camille (a couple years younger). Laura and Hana had been best friends from small children through college. But they haven't seen each other in about 10 years. Hana has aged dramatically, and doesn't want Laura to come visit. But Laura decides she is going to take her girls to visit anyway. The action of the book takes place over about five days, with detours back to explain the courtship of Cate (Hana's mother) and Max, and their lives together as they remember being a happy family and having a lovely daughter.
The writing is spare, and written consecutively by Cate, Hana and Josephine. Laura and Camille are seen through the eyes of the others. Each chapter is relatively short, and the book is a quick read, but there are more than enough insights and understandings to make you think about it long after you finish reading.
This is a new to me author, but one that I will add to my ever growing list of favorite authors. This is a beautifully written story about love, friendship and courage. Wonderfully written characters. Can't wait to pick up another book from this author.
Hana is suffering from Werner's syndrome, a disease that makes a person age at twice the normal rate: at thirty eight Hanna has the appearance of an eighty year old. Despite the dark premise, Dreaming Water is a heartwarming story of a mother's courage, a daughter's strength and the power of a friend's love. An illuminating story of growth and redemption.
I love mysteries, but the synopsis of this book intrigued me. I'm glad I read it. I was rapt from beginning to end. I love the way the author told the story from each individual's own perspective. Very entertaining. Loved it!
This is my first book by this author and I loved it. The author's writing style helped me whiz through this wonderful story. A couple discovers that their only daughter has an unusual disease. Hana has Werner's syndrome which makes her age twice as fast as she should. She refers to it only as Werner.
I enjoy books that discuss real life experiences. There are many heart breaking scenes in the novel her parents cope with what life has given them. The author doesn't belittle the reactions of those who don't understand and ridicule young Hana. Inside the aging body is a young woman whose take on life can teach many of us how to live better. She is positive, outgoing and happy. Yes, she dislikes Werner but accepts what life has given her. Would that we all could look at life as Hana does. This is a gentle story that helps one realize that life is full of happiness and treasures that we should cherish.
I read this some time ago (many years) but noticed it on the list and thought I would write a quick review. This is a fascinating book and story of a relationship, a disease/syndrome (not sure how to characterize it), and life. Wonderfully written, and heart full. Highly recommended. Each and every one of Tsukiyama's books are gems, I have read most of them, and they are memorable, evoking wonderful images and characters and relationships. Five stars out of five!