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A second from Toronto-based Sakamoto (The Electrical Field, 1999), the story of a young woman’s posthumous discovery of her father’s double life.

Miyo’s father Masao was a Canadian of Japanese ancestry, and Masao was born in Vancouver but sent to Japan for his education—just in time to be stranded there during WWII. As far as Miyo knew, her father had never served in the Japanese military, and he moved back to Toronto as soon after the war as he could and raised Miyo by himself after her mother died in childbirth. Miyo grew up happy but solitary, doted on obsessively by her father, who made a point of keeping her well away from the local Japanese community. But now, in the aftermath of Masao’s death, Miyo is faced with a number of astonishing revelations. First, she discovers that her father’s longtime friend Setsuko was, in fact, his wife, whom he married secretly after Miyo’s mother had died. Setsuko then proceeds to tell Miyo that she has a half-sister, Hana, who is an artist in Japan. Miyo and Setsuku travel to Tokyo to visit Hana, and there Miyo learns that her father had been a kamikaze pilot during the war. All this is disturbing enough, but it implies a number of even more disturbing questions. If he was a kamikaze, why was Masao never sent on a mission? Did he feel like a traitor for surviving? Or had he been the traitor in going to Japan in the first place? As a Asian living in an overwhelmingly Western society, Miyo knows from experience what mischief can be wrought from divided loyalties and confused identities—and now she sees instinctively that the contradictions in her father’s life will mirror those in her own.

An elegant and thoughtful meditation on history, family, and personality, nicely packed into a tautly mysterious domestic drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-15-101037-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2003