“In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.”
Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
This is a beautiful story rich with characters from many different backgrounds. Meryl is on a self-made mission because she has found herself not really needed by anyone any more. Her father has a new love in his life and her son has moved to Japan. Meryl, a Vietnam War widow has come into the possession of a WW11 Japanese flag, a very special flag that she feels needs to be returned to the family of the man who died in the war. She takes a little persuading but decides to make it an all round trip to seek her son out too.
Meryl is a wonderful character that grows with confidence the further her journey takes her. It is a trip which will change who she is and affect so many lives, all who are enriched from meeting her. Her journey isn’t as straight forward as she first thought it would be bringing her into contact with so many different characters on her way, each with their own story.
Each person is a stepping stone to both the past and who they are now, each one helping Meryl get nearer to her goal.
I loved how the traditions and cultures of the people were woven into the story too. When Meryl reaches her goal it felt like she had completed their family again. Beautifully told this is a unique story.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
B. Jeanne Shibahara (Japanese: 芝原 美人) is a contemporary Japanese writer. She is of German and Scottish descent.
She studied creative writing in the MA program at Arizona State University where she adopted the mantra of her professor, Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly). “No tears in the writer. No tears in the reader.” In Japan, she has taught English at a private university and written articles for research groups.
She’s married to Professor Emeritus Akira Shibahara of Osaka Prefecture University. The couple divides their time between Nara City, an ancient capital of Japan, and the Tohoku District.