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After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara

After the Bloom

by Leslie Shimotakahara

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After the Bloom is a story structured in a commonly used framework - two time periods, two women, a daughter trying to untangle the puzzle of her mother. The broader context is the internment of the Japanese in the United States during World War. The personal story is of a young woman with troubling relationships - her father, her daughter's father, and others she meets at the camp. In this book, the fiction and the history take two different points of focus, making it challenging to engage with.

Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/05/after-bloom.html

Reviewed for NetGalley ( )
  njmom3 | May 18, 2017 |
Rita Takemitsu’s mother, Lily, is missing and this is the worst possible time. Rita is newly divorced and has moved into a new apartment, for that matter, she’s not even unpacked. Her daughter, Kristen, is staying in Vancouver with her father, who appears to have moved on more quickly from the divorce than Rita so Kristen’s phone calls add to her misery. Her brother Tom isn’t taking the disappearance seriously and Lily’s new husband, Gerald, is slowly falling apart as he learns his wife isn’t who he thought she was.

That’s the background for Leslie Shimotakahara’s novel, After the Bloom, but it’s not the real story. The real story and what’s far more interesting is what happened to Lily and the Japanese-Americans in 1943 in the Matanzas internment camp. Matanzas is based on a real-life camp, Manzanar, one of ten camps in the United Stated where Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during WWII and the site of the real-life Manzanar Riot (portrayed quite vividly in the novel as the Matanzas Riot).

The author uses the present, 1980’s Toronto and Lily’s disappearance, to lead us back into the past and educate us (or at least, me) into the nature of the camps. How a woman who suffers from occasional fugue states is able to travel a great distance to achieve a goal is a bit of mystery and often Rita’s neediness grates, but ultimately After the Bloom is an engrossing read, a sad yet important reminder of a period in American history, and I would recommend the book. ( )
  bayleaf | Mar 17, 2017 |
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