This book is the reason I pick up so many of the modern book club favorites. Because every once in awhile, one is so good that it restores my faith.
1986. Chinese American man aged 56ish loses his wife to cancer. In his melancholic haze, he reads that an old boarded up hotel has been sold, and the new owner has discovered a bunch of WWII era stuff that presumably belonged to “evacuated” Japanese families.
Henry recalls his friendship with a Japanese American girl and her family in 1942. He obtains permission to search the stuff. Drama ensues.
The thing I like best in this book is that even in Henry’s 12-year old perspective, he finds sympathetic adults that appreciate him, help him and keep him safe – both from baddies and from the harsh old world judgement of his father. The thing I like least (SPOILERS) is the old “daddy kept the letters from getting through” gambit. Seriously, it was so obvious that I didn’t even think of it. I seriously thought there was going to be a reasonable explanation.
I also like that despite the title of the book, there is a surprising lack of bitterness displayed by most of the characters. There are a couple generations of people here that have a few reasons to hate the world, but almost no one takes that route.
Score one for the bestseller list. This time.