Book Reviews of Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars
Snow Falling on Cedars
Author: David Guterson
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ISBN-13: 9780679764021
ISBN-10: 067976402X
Publication Date: 1995
Pages: 460
Rating:
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 1039

3.7 stars, based on 1039 ratings
Publisher: Vintage Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

122 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 21
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.
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Helpful Score: 11
Hated it. Moved slow and could not figure out what the heck was going on.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 31 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Have you read this yet? Is it on your favorites list?
If not it's a must read. Not just a mystery; it's a mind mover.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 49 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Amazon.com
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.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Very intense! Intriguing insight on prejudice.
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Helpful Score: 5
wonderful reading - great prose - about changing your dreams.
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Helpful Score: 5
Deep human relations and how a town was torn apart by the internment of the Japanese people during WW2.
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Helpful Score: 4
this is a good story about the north west coast and the lot of Japanese Americans during and shortly after WWII. The writing is good and the message is good.
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Helpful Score: 3
Guterson's dizzingly spectactular description of the Puget Sound area serves to give a strong feel to this even stronger story. Surprisingly (and refreshingly), for a book about a murder, you hardly focus on the murder at all, but more on the relationship between the main characters. You grow attached.

For me, this book is very much like the title suggests - it silently works its way down, into your thoughts, and settles there, like snow. It lingers and stays in your memory, and when it finally does melt away, what remains is the recollection of the beauty that once was there.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I loved this story...especially living here in the Pacific Northwest where it takes place...I know these places and can just imagine this story actually taking place years ago. Definitely a good read
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Helpful Score: 3
Good read! So enjoyed this novel about a Japanese man accused of the murder of a childhood friend. To complicate the plot the local newsman is still in love with his wife. The death and resulting trial occur ten years after the war. Both fought the Japanese after Pearl Harbor was bombed and returned as different men because the horrors of war haunt their dreams. There are many themes running through this novel including discrimination because another's skin and culture is different; how tragedy of war changes those who survive; how man survives life's experiences and the human heart copes with it all. If you enjoy novels, you would find this a rewarding read.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
During WWII Japanese-Americans were sent into exile, and SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS explores this tragic time in our country's history. More importantly, it looks at repercussions that linger in a Puget Sound community. As historical fiction, SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS does double duty. It thoroughly entertains, with characters you want to know, and it reminds of a time past, with a plot that keeps you asking questions.
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Helpful Score: 2
Haunting historical mystery.
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Helpful Score: 2
I had heard about this book but somehow never picked it up during my many visits to Barnes & Noble but when I saw it here on the swap, I figured, why not? I am so glad I did. If you are a people watcher and are able to pick up tiny all of the little details and nuances of human behavior and people in general with their idiosyncracies, speech, dress, etc. you will enjoy this book. David has a way of writing that really made me feel like all of my senses were engaged. No spoilers in this review but the descriptions of the strawberry fields, the snow, the conversations, the characters...I was truly transported while I read this book. I just ordered another of his books since I enjoyed this one so much.
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Helpful Score: 2
A beautiful book about a slice of history I've never known much about -- the US Interment camps for the Japanese during WWII. The care and craft that went into the writing of this novel made it highly deserving of every award it won.

A must-read.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Snow Falling on Cedars is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird in that it deals with a man wrongfully accused of a crime and the prejudice of the community regarding his race. However, because the main character and narrator of the story is a disillusioned war veteran, the tone of the novel is much edgier and more graphic in its descriptions of events and emotions. I really enjoyed the book but I wouldnt recommend it for everyone. The author does not hold back in his descriptions of sex, murder or war. Ironically, the novel is also very beautiful. I could picture the snowy cedar forests of the Northwest. I could even smell them. The author also gave detail to each and every character making them three dimensional. As a reader, I felt that I knew them, and I cared very much what happened to them. A worthy read!
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 111 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The smoldering tensions of World War II ignite into open racial conflic in a powerful period drama set in the Pacific Northwest. When a fisherman is found drowned, suspicion falls on Japanese-American Kazou Miyamoto. Local reporter Ishmael Chambers may hold the key to proving Kazou's innocence. But there's a problem: Ishmael's also in love with Kazou's wife.

This story wasn't a fast read, was slow all the way through, and this story isn't my kind of read, however I did like it and I would like to see the movie of this story. I think the movie would be better.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on
Helpful Score: 1
An excellent read on the Japanese Internment. Guterson does a fantastic job of conveying the emotional duress of American citizens through this tragic story of love and war.
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Helpful Score: 1
The imagery that Mr. Guterson uses to describe scenes from the book are breathtaking. The plot takes places on a small island that is home to strawberry farmers and fishermen. You can almost taste the strawberries when Mr. Guterson describes the fields. The book starts out a little slow with the court scenes, but starts to pick up as Ismael and Hatsue's lives are played out, from young children to adults. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good mystery or love story, though the love story may not end the way some people think it should.
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Helpful Score: 1
Touching intense story. Love,prejudice,and redemption
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Helpful Score: 1
good book,it took me a little time to get into it but once I did it was worth it.
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Helpful Score: 1
I learned alot about the Japanese experience during WWII. Loved this book.
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Helpful Score: 1
A nice little book. If you are familiar with strawberry farming, the 50's and living in snow country, you'll enjoy this mystery of sorts. If you are familiar with the Japanese culture, the fishing industry, or have an unforgetable old love, you'll enjoy it even more. To find out about the story itself, read someone elses review.
I could identify with so many things in the book that the story, though good, really didn't matter to me.
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Helpful Score: 1
Guterson's excellent novel of ethnic tensions and love between a Puget Sound region native and a Japanese-American girl in wartime Pacific coast fishing community also has a brilliant section on rather unglorious combat reality and its affect on veterans. Hollywood picked it up and rather bungled it despite the premise of murder, sex and natural beauty of ocean shore...but the book remains first-rate.
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Helpful Score: 1
It's been a long time since I've read this book, but I remember being struck by the background of an island where most of the population of Japanese residents were sent into exile during WWII which set up the haunting beauty of a murder trail in a small island so isolated, no one can afford to make enemies.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very well written story set in northern Washinton state on an island off the Puget Sound. The story takes place after World War 2 and involves a murder trial, love story and racism and how the people on this small island are affected by all these events. I really enjoyed this book!
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Helpful Score: 1
The setting of this book, like it's title, weaves a certain magical quality. It's set on a very small island in the Pacific Northwest. It's the first book I read that touched on the experiences of the Japanese-Americans during WWII, and the racial tensions between the Japanese and whites. It's basically a murder mystery, centering on a Japanese-American resident who is accussed of killing a white man. I usually don't like mysteries, so that made it a little difficult at times, but it is certainly a worthwhile read.
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Helpful Score: 1
I had to read this for a college course. I loved it, especially since the setting is close to where I live. Includes some history of Japanese internments that isn't typically taught in the schools.
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Helpful Score: 1
Definitely a must read.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is an award-winning book, and for good reason. The book explores the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American charged with murdering a fisherman in 1954. Always in the backdrop is the fact that World War II was still fresh on everyone's mind, a time when the island of San Piedro was divided, with their Japanese-American neighbors sent off into exile.

It's a story about a trial, but it also gets at the heart of what happened during those terrible years. David Guterson shows how the deepest hurts can appear to be cleansed and forgiven, but are always lurking in the background, ready to rise up with a vengeance.

If you like history, suspense and a bit of romance, this is your book.
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Helpful Score: 1
Loved reading this book! Read as part of a ladies book club. The book was enjoyed by all!
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Helpful Score: 1
The book won the Pen/Faulkner award & the American Booksellers Association book of the year award. Visions of Puget Sound (one of my favorite places to visit). Reminders of WWII. Suspense. Surprises. Enjoyable.
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Helpful Score: 1
I really loved this book. It tells of difficult time period for Japanese Americans introwoven a very touching love story.
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Helpful Score: 1
Truly moving. It kept me awake at night worrying about how the main character would resolve his ethical dilemma. You know you're hooked when you're that concerned about a fictional event. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was excellent. It kept me turning pages and wanting more!!
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Helpful Score: 1
You will not be able to put this book down, and you won't be able to forget it either. The evocative landscape and atmosphere, along with the grim details, will capture you.
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A beautifully written book by a gifted author.
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so engaging and well-written!
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The first abridged audio book that has so good it made me want to go out and get the unabridged novel.
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An enjoyable read. I was swept up in this story from beginning to end and had a difficult time putting the book down.
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"Haunting....A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper." --Los Angeles Times
Awesome story line which really made me think about our judicial process! Carol
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I fyou have seen the movie....this is a must read book. The book is much better than the movie.
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I truly enjoyed this book, it was a great book to read for me.
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One of my favorite books.
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had a hard time getting through the first few chapters
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gentle, warm.
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Book was a good courtroom story tying in various hisorical and personal issues as they pertained to the trial at hand. Informitave, and a good read.
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I found it rather slow, I am not sure I had the patience to finish it
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The basic storyline is one to draw you in. However, the falshbacks and flash forwards are difficult to keep track of; providing the reader with a sometimes struggling mind as to what time period they are reading in. The love plot, meant to be soft and full of passion, left me with a feeling of fatigue, boredom, and redundancy. The ending is wonderful. Since everyone is different, I would give this one a try.
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I could not get into this book. It was very slow and I did not finish it, which is very rare for me.
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I could not finish this book. Couldn't get interested in it. Rarely do I abandon books but this one just wasn't for me.
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This audio book is well-read and a very enjoyable listen. Good story, good reader!
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Great book about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Made into a great movie as well.
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Compelling, heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written. NY Times Book Review
Haunting. A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper. Los Angeles Times
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Not too bad. I haven't seen the movie version.
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A haunting whodunit. A tender examination of fairness and forgiveness. A masterpiece of suspense.
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I enjoyed this book. Although it started slow it turned out to be very engrossing.
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An absolutely wonderful book. Beautifully written story about a small island off the coast of Washington and its inhabitants. The population is made up of Americans and Japanese and the story tells about their dealings with each other before and after World War II. Poetic and memorable.
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some really beautiful descriptive sequences, though the story is a little slow-moving at times.
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The writing of this book is absolutely beautiful.
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Excellent story of love,life,loss and war.
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Brilliant legal thriller.
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A story that takes place in the (greater) San Juan Islands in Washington, loved it when I read it 20 years ago.
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Opened my eyes to a period of history I was not familiar with..
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A beautiful story - haunting and wonderful.
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"Compelling...heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written." NYT's Book Review

A great mystery read, complete with courtroom drama
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mystery/romance/history of Japenese Americans during World War II
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I loved this book. The complexity of the story is revealed in flashbacks, while the drama plays out. Takes place in a northwest fishing community involving Japanese/Americans from before until after WWll. Very well written, very moving.
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I read this book in 2002 and really enjoyed it. In fact it was an eye-opener for me!
I read it because several people were trying to get it banned from a high school library in a town near me. I had to see why they wanted it banned. After reading the book, I still didn't know why they would want it taken out of the library.
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good story but sometimes hard to follow
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I couldn't get through this book, but everyone I know that has read it loves it, so I'm giving it a good rating on their behalf!
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moving,suspensefull-a tale of prejudices and morals. love and war
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I found this book poetic and uplifting. It was not only a good mystery and a story of doomed teenage love, but revealing of how prejudice actually works in real life. I would warn those sensitive to such themes that it is frank about the sexuality of some of the characters, but it never made this church-every-Sunday reader feel like I was being made an unwitting voyeur since it was integral to the story and anything but pornographic in its seeming intent. It's one of the better books I've read this year and I'm keeping so I can eventually reread it.
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Story of San Piedro Island-love between white boy and Japanese girl and the haunting memories of the Japanese american exile during WW 2 and a murder mystery. Gripping and haunting. Good read.
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This is a lovely book. Takes place in the Pacific Northwest.
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Story of struggles of Japanese American during World War 11 In the course of the ensuing trials it becomes clear that more than one thing is at stake.
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Do not be put off by the movie. This was one of the best books I have read. The descriptions of the Seattle area and the issues with the Japanese internment camps during WWII are very compelling.
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Flawlessly written story, compelling; courtroom drama. I highly this whodunnit. American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award.
You won't be disappointed.
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Set on isoloated San Piedro Island, noth of Puget Sound. Memories of what happened to Japanese residents during World War II. A masterpiece of suspense fiction.
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A stunning tale!
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A murder trial, a childhood romance forbidden due to predjudice. Excellent read.
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A haunting mystery in which deeper and more profound and tragic events from the past are revealed. This is a beautiful book!
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Although the movie was good, I enjoyed the book much better!
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I loved this book, despite reviews about how sad it was, it was certainly not bleak.
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Excellent read. Winner of the Pen/Faulkner award and ABA book of the year! Full of suspense.
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This book will keep you on the edge of your seat... I didn't want to put it down!
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I really didn't like this book. I couldn't even finish it. There is too much back story, and the author goes into too much detail about trivial things. The story moved too slow.
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WONDERFUL
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One of the few books I've read about the interment of American Japanese during WW11. It is also a mystery, a love story and a whodunit, with mysterious turns of evidence.
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This is a great book to read. Ishmeal and Hatsue failed in love with each other. But after Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese was receiving a lot of prejudiced and A court case of who killed Carl. I really enjoyed reading this book but some part was dragging. He
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Great Story!
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San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fileds of ripe strawberries - memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost...
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Excellent story.
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Good story line, good setting descriptions.
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Good book.
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Amazon.com
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. --from amazon.com
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From Kirkus Reviews
Old passions, prejudices, and grudges surface in a Washington State island town when a Japanese man stands trial for the murder of a fisherman in the 1950s. Guterson (The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, 1989, etc.) has written a thoughtful, poetic first novel, a cleverly constructed courtroom drama with detailed, compelling characters. Many years earlier, Kabuo Miyamoto's family had made all but the last payment on seven acres of land they were in the process of buying from the Heine family. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and Kabuo's family was interned. Etta Heine, Carl's mother, called off the deal. Kabuo served in the war, returned, and wanted his land back. After changing hands a few times, the land ended up with Carl Heine. When Carl, a fisherman, is found drowned in his own net, all the circumstantial evidence, with the land dispute as a possible motive, points to Kabuo as the murderer. Meanwhile, Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo's wife, is the undying passion of Ishmael Chambers, the publisher and editor of the town newspaper. Ishmael, who returned from the war minus an arm, can't shake his obsession for Hatsue any more than he can ignore the ghost pains in his nonexistent arm. As a thick snowstorm whirls outside the courtroom, the story is unburied. The same incidents are recounted a number of times, with each telling revealing new facts. In the end, justice and morality are proven to be intimately woven with beauty--the kind of awe and wonder that children feel for the world. But Guterson communicates these truths through detail, not philosophical argument: Readers will come away with a surprising store of knowledge regarding gill-netting boats and other specifics of life in the Pacific Northwest. Packed with lovely moments and as compact as haiku--at the same time, a page-turner full of twists.
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In 1954 Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with the murder of Carl Heine in San Piedro. During the course of the trial a past love affair of Kabuo's wife and memories of a land battle come out. I just could not get into this book. It jumps around in time making it hard to keep up with what is going on and the trial was long and tedious. Just to much going on with characters. Not my type of book.
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"Gripping, tragic, and densly atmospheric... a masterpiece of suspense... one that leaves us shaken and changed."
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"Haunting... A whodunit complete with courtroom maneurvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper." -Los Angeles Times
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Way better then the movie and I hope you read the book before you watch the movie. This book caused quite a stir at our local high school even getting one teacher fired. This was life during WWII, told better then some history book could.
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great book, interesting read
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San Piedro Island is a place isolated that no one who livesthere can afford to make enimies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspciously drowned, and a japanese American named Kabuo is charged with his murder.
In the course of the trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt.
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Great book. Could not put it down. Movie and book are very true to each other.
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Great story filled with atmosphere.
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San Piedra Island of Puget Wound is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies but in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned and a Jqpanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In th ecourse of the ensuing trial it beco es clear that what is at stake is more than one man;s guilt For on San iedro memeory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries memories of a charmed love affai betwwen a white boy and Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabus's wife memoried of land desired paid for and lost
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"San Pedro island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies, but in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with murder..."
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My daughter read this book as a summer reading assignment. She found it a bit slow going (but she's a teenager!). I have heard good things about the book from other adults. I want to swap this book because we have another copy at home.
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San Piedro island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.
In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and a japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife, memories of land desired, paid for, and lost.
Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when the entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.
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Old library copy, rough edges
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great story.
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Fantastic story, read it before you rent the movie.
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Amazon.com: "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. "
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I have not read this book, but my Mother loved it :)
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This was a wonderful story.
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Better than the movie!
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 8 more book reviews
Great book, took place near my home.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 30 more book reviews
I could not get into this or the movie.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 6 more book reviews
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.

In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries-memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during WWII, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece os suspense-but one that leaves us shaken and changed.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 3 more book reviews
Good book.
reviewed Snow Falling on Cedars on + 8 more book reviews
A wonderful storry. An excellent copy.