A writer goes to the far side of the world for work and finds a home.
In May 2004, Slater parlayed a position teaching writing to graduate students in Boston into a job teaching English as a second language in Kobe, Japan. She began working as a member of the faculty of the East Asia Executive MBA Program, and any hard-earned confidence she had gained working in Boston quickly vanished. Shortly into the program, Slater was asked to talk to students more quietly and be more demure, “like women here are supposed to.” Despite this—or perhaps because of it—the author found a kindred spirit, of sorts, in a student named Toru. They fell quickly and deeply in love, a storybook-romance sort of love, in which they realized immediately that they were meant to meet and be together, despite the odds of it happening. The relationship grew, carried forward by their learning to communicate with each other. Then they were split apart when Toru left to be with his mother, who was critically injured by a hit-and-run driver and died a short time later. The book truly finds its legs when the couple reunites in America, as Slater chronicles how she began to acclimate to Toru’s country. Her eyes opened to the many the things she’d become inured to in America and the beauty of simple differences in Japan. With her mother cautioning her against it, her own roots in Massachusetts, and her heart pulling her across the globe, Slater had to decide whether—and how—to try and make it work. The author certainly makes the telling of it work.
A heartfelt and moving tale, coupling insights into two remarkably different cultures with a love story that, as much as any true love story can, delivers a happy ending.