Age Range: 12 & up
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 Mori (Creative Writing/Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin) returns to her native Japan for a lyrical first novel with the intensity of remembered grief. Yuki's gentle mother commits suicide after assuring the anxious 12-year-old that she is ``all right.'' Like her mother Shizuko, to whom she was exceptionally close, Yuki is talented and resilient; but she too is thwarted by a restrictive society and a miserable family situation. For Shizuko, there was no hope--though she loved her daughter, her husband was cold, dictatorial, and usually absent; and though (as Yuki will learn) she was once attracted to a more congenial man, she would have lost Yuki in a divorce. Life becomes nearly as bleak for Yuki: her father marries his mistress, who is obsessively antagonistic to Yuki, and he prevents Yuki from communicating with her mother's loving relatives. Even Yuki's talents are stumbling blocks to friendship: highly intelligent, creative, assertive, she doesn't fit into the traditional Japan of the 70's. Only at 18 does she break free by rejecting the fine local university to go to a distant art school. Still compulsively gauche, in the end she mellows toward her grandparents and makes a strong friendship with the promise of blossoming into love. A beautifully written book about a bitterly painful coming of age, intensified by exquisite sensory motifs--flavors and aromas, light and color, the weight and ornamentation of clothing. Yuki's unsympathetically portrayed father may not be fully realized; but like Suzanne Staples's Shabanu (1989), Yuki is unforgettable. A splendid debut. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8050-2557-X
Page count: 222pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993