A BRIDGE BETWEEN US by Julie Shigekuni

A BRIDGE BETWEEN US

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 With this fluid debut novel, Shigekuni raises the emotional and artistic stakes in the burgeoning genre of the multigenerational ethnic saga. In an elegant touch, protagonist Nomi notes that the Japanese character for gossip resembles a drawing of her mother, Tomoe, her great-grandmother Reiko, and her grandmother Rio sitting close together under one roof; indeed all of them initially live together in one house in San Francisco. The family trees provided at the outset are necessary here: Although the author successfully weaves together the stories of several generations of Japanese-American women, she sometimes has trouble making clear who is related to whom. Each woman recounts her life story in individual chapters, but the novel eventually narrows down to follow only Nomi, who is saving money to make a trip to Japan in fulfillment of a dream she had about promising to meet a man there. The shift works, but the hyper-sexual Nomi--men are inexplicably drawn to her, including her sister's boyfriend--is the least interesting of the characters here (her blankness, presumably, indicates how troubled she is), and her frank letters to her grandmother seem highly improbable. Nomi's lonely time in Japan is described with appropriate grit and sadness, however, and the pace picks up towards the close of the book as the narrators' voices begin to alternate more frequently. The author also has skillfully studded her tale with events that echo through the generations. Comparisons to Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club are inevitable, but Shigekuni's vision is darker and often more complex. Sometimes she seems to be pursuing the emotional underbelly in order to create drama, rather than having it rise organically from the story, but she always writes with great style- -if the novel occasionally overheats, it's not so often as to be inexcusable. Problematic in parts, but intriguing. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 8th, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-47678-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994




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