Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Snow Falling on CedarsSo I’m not quite sure how this book ended up on my list.  I believe it was given/loaned to me by either my sister or my mother and then sat on my bookshelves unattended.  Now that I’ve read it, I understand why it was meant to be shared.

With Pearl Harbor in its backdrop, we follow a murder trial on San Piedro Island where the accused is a Japanese-American man accused of killing a local fisherman whose mother reneged on a deal involving 7 acres of land.  Guterson weaves an absorbing tale that fluctuates before, during and after the day that lives on in infamy.

The accused, Kabuo Miyamoto, is a proud and reserved man, which works to his disadvantage, as he sits in court and is perceived as a cold and uncaring killer.  Like many of his neighbors, he enlisted following the attack on Pearl Harbor and carries the horrors of war with him, but has buried it below the surface.  He doggedly pursues the land promised to his family as he believes they were wronged while they were sent to internment camps, with just two payments remaining.

Kabuo’s wife, Hatsue is also proud and feels torn between her feelings as a woman who grew up as an American and her loyalty to her family’s Japanese heritage.  Her relationship with a young neighbor is complicated by the war and the ensuing prejudice on both sides.  It is never clear if she should have followed her heart rather than her obligation to family.

Ishmael Chambers is the local newspaper editor who had a lengthy relationship with  Hatsue.  He receives his Dear John letter from the interned Hatsue and goes off to war returning like many others, haunted by it and after being shot, without an arm.  His anger over Hatsue’s rejection carriers throughout his life and has made him a bitter man.  When he uncovers information that could help exonerate Kabuo, he does not rush to share it and his resentment may prevent an innocent man from being saved.

With Mr. Guterson’s obvious knowledge of the sea,  a boat trip is the obvious choice.  We could sail on smooth waters and discuss his early years teaching and how he evolved into a wonderful writer.

My rating for Snow Falling on Cedars is an 8 out of 10.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird…Jailbird

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