In 1954 a fisherman is found dead in the nets of his boat, and a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder. In the course of his trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memories grow as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of... read more
The book starts off on the sleepy island town of San Piedro. A Japanese man, Kabuo Miyamoto, is put on trial for the supposive murder of a fisherman with three children and a wife, Carl Heine Jr. Among all the people in the courtroom, the reader learns more about Ishmael Chambers, a reporter... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The book starts off on the sleepy island town of San Piedro. A Japanese man, Kabuo Miyamoto, is put on trial for the supposive murder of a fisherman with three children and a wife, Carl Heine Jr. Among all the people in the courtroom, the reader learns more about Ishmael Chambers, a reporter who lost his arm in the second World War. Ishmael takes the reader on a journey through his life, and shows them his childhood love for Kabuo's future wife Hatsue, and his hatred for all Japanese when Hatsue and her family was forced to move to an internment camp in California. When Hatsue returns, he finds she does not and has not ever loved him, and his heart breaks even further. Eevn in his adult years, he has not forgotten his love for her, or the hatred he feels for her. Hatsue believes that her husband did not kill Carl Heine, and that the whole trial is based on discrimination. She pleads to Ishmael to talk to the Judge about it, and he does so. The Judge orders that the case be investigated further, and they find that he was climbing up a ladder to get a lantern, he fell, hit his head and drowned to death. The charges against Kabuo Miyamoto are dropped and he is finally aloud to return to his family
“Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we're safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is.”Ishmael Chambers, to Hatsue.
“'Shikata ga nai,' people said. 'It cannot be helped, it has to be.'”
“...And what I see is the same human frailty passed from generation to generation. What I see again and again is the same sad human frailty...And will you contribute to the indifferent forces that ceaselessly conspire toward injustice? Or will you stand up against this endless tide and in the face of it be truly human?...”Nels Gudmundsson
“Nel's wife had died from cancer of the colon. They had not gotten along particularly well, but nevertheless he missed her.”Nel Gudmudsson
“"'Deceiving me', said Fujiko in Japanese, 'is only half of it, daughter. You have deceived yourself, too.'"”Fujiko Imada, to Hatsue
Some could handle this at 12 or 13. But there are sexual themes. A certain level of maturity would be needed- there is also a detailed account of battle (in the WW II Pacific theater). My guess is, unless your child of less than 15 is extremely mature it would not work. And an older teen probably would benefit if there were a parent (or very accessible teacher or other mature person) who had read this to consult. This would help your teen to reflect on the violence in the story, and the way the two characters (Hatsue and Ishmael) are high school seniors exploring a sexual relationship.
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