Though there is a dearth of books covering the Japanese-American internment, and it was refreshing to finally find one, I was frustrated after reading through this plodding, intermittent book. The characters lack depth, and the lead character, Hatsue, seems like a caricature of the submissive Japanese wife. The men in the story fare little better. The way in which Hatsue and Ishmael's affair began and ended made them both seem like ridiculous 15-year-olds, rather than tragic or fated ex-lovers. Perhaps they were intended to be that way. It is a page-turner, but not a entirely gripping one. My final thought: playing off a collective historical guilt does not make for a compelling book. For most, it's hard to give a bad review to a book that is peripherally about the Japanese internment. Not me. I say "Yuck," and mean it.
Hated it. Moved slow and could not figure out what the heck was going on.
Though and award winner and highly regarded, I found this novel to be wordy, long, and rather boring. It was a struggle to finish and in the end not worth the effort. Great writer for sure but the story just didn't catch fire and the constant flashbacks accompanied by painfully drawn out back-story put me to...zzzzzzzzzz
wonderful reading - great prose - about changing your dreams.
This is the kind of book where you can smell and hear and see the fictional world the writer has created, so palpably does the atmosphere come through. Set on an island in the straits north of Puget Sound, in Washington, where everyone is either a fisherman or a berry farmer, the story is nominally about a murder trial. But since it's set in the 1950s, lingering memories of World War II, internment camps and racism helps fuel suspicion of a Japanese-American fisherman, a lifelong resident of the islands. It's a great story, but the primary pleasure of the book is Guterson's renderings of the people and the place.