Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Mothers and Daughters...
Secrets and Silence.
Like a soft whisper, Mary Yukari Waters' writing is quietly powerful. Her book, The Favorites, is simply wonderful. She perfectly captures the subtle nuances of a relationship between a mother and her daughter, and the 3 generations of women this story is about...
"Kyoto 1978. Fourteen-year-old Sarah Rexford feels like an outsider when she returns to Japan for the first time in five years, to stay with her mother's family. As Sarah begins to reacquaint herself with her relatives and learn more about the culture she came from, she discovers a secret that stretches across three generations, its presence looming over the family home. She quickly learns that personal boundaries are firmly drawn in traditional Kyoto, and actions are not always what they appear..."
The Favorites by Mary Yukari Waters is narrated through the voice of 14-year-old Sarah as she returns to Kyoto to visit her mother's family. Her innocent observations guide the story, as she learns about the beauty of Japan, the streets & surroundings that her mother walked as a child, and the complexities of the relationships between the women of her family.
The Favorites also touches on the challenges an immigrant experiences in a land foreign to them- Sarah is half Japanese because her mother married an American, so she deals with her feelings of being an outsider,with strangers on the street, but also with her family. We learn of the differences of Sarah's mother living in America as a foreigner and her return to her native home. What's also wonderful is how Sarah views these differences, and her growing appreciation and love as a result
I loved this book! In near perfect prose Mary Yukari Waters relates the honesty in feelings a daughter has for her mother; the unconditional love, the teenage embarrassment, the growing respect & love... and how everyone has a special place in a family. Mary Yukari Waters writes so well about the complex feelings these women have for each other. She uses the eyes of Sarah to tell us and does this with the backdrop of one of my favorite places, Japan. A country filled with wonderful traditions, beauty, and superstitions... All is slowly divulged as the story takes us from the everyday lives of the women of the Kobayashi and Asaki houses one long summer in 1978. Sarah begins to slowly fade a bit as the story seems to tell itself in other parts, and in doing so we learn more details of another important woman in the household, and how the secret that binds the houses has affected her. Their histories and passions create a wonderful story that will stay with you after the last page is turned... Mary Yukari Waters writes the stories of these women with passion, but with the restrained grace of the Japanese women she is writing about.
This novel was so moving. The story still haunts me... If you enjoy stories of mothers & daughters, sisters & family secrets, The Favorites with be a very satisfying read!
A Big Thank you to Book Chick City, a British chick who loves to read and and has a wonderful blog, for sending this novel to me! Check out her blog Book Chick City! And learn more about The Favorites and the author, Mary Yukari Waters, at Simon & Schuster!
*Hey, I'm sharing this review with Cym Lowell's Book Review Party!