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The Favorites: A Novel by Mary Yukari Waters
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The Favorites: A Novel

by Mary Yukari Waters

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976194,950 (4.3)3
Explores the complex relationships among three generations of women bound by a painful family history and a culture in which custom dictates behavior.

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Deliciously delightful throughout. Yes, the story meanders a bit, and it might feel like not much happens overall. But the journey is what makes this book.

The details of the scenery and surroundings are simple, but they slow you down and make you want to savor the images created in your mind. I wanted to pause after a section or chapter, just to let it sit in my mind before moving to something new.

It is definitely a book about culture, but also about relationships, mainly about how things aren't always so black and white. The characters felt very real to me, and I wanted to step into their shoes a bit more, even if just to see the places they inhabited.

Lovely. ( )
  digitalmaven | Mar 24, 2011 |
Like a soft whisper, Mary Yukari Waters' writing is quietly powerful. Her book, The Favorites, is simply wonderful. She perfectly captures the subtle nuances of a relationship between a mother and her daughter, and the 3 generations of women this story is about...

The Favorites is narrated through the voice of 14-year-old Sarah as she returns to Kyoto to visit her mother's family. Her innocent observations guide the story, as she learns about the beauty of Japan, the streets & surroundings that her mother walked as a child, and the complexities of the relationships between the women of her family.

The Favorites also touches on the challenges an immigrant experiences in a land foreign to them- Sarah is half Japanese because her mother married an American, so she deals with her feelings of being an outsider,with strangers on the street, but also with her family. We learn of the differences of Sarah's mother living in America as a foreigner and her return to her native home. What's also wonderful is how Sarah views these differences, and her growing appreciation and love as a result

I loved this book! In near perfect prose Mary Yukari Waters relates the honesty in feelings a daughter has for her mother; the unconditional love, the teenage embarrassment, the growing respect & love... It's about aunts & cousins, nieces & matriarchs, and how everyone has a special place in a family. Mary Yukari Waters writes so well about the complex feelings these women have for each other. She uses the eyes of Sarah to tell us and does this with the backdrop of one of my favorite places, Japan. A country filled with wonderful traditions, beauty, and superstitions... All is slowly divulged as the story takes us from the everyday lives of the women of the Kobayashi and Asaki houses one long summer in 1978. Sarah begins to slowly fade a bit as the story seems to tell itself in other parts, and in doing so we learn more details of another important woman in the household, and how the secret that binds the houses has affected her. Their histories and passions create a wonderful story that will stay with you after the last page is turned... Mary Yukari Waters writes the stories of these women with passion, but with the restrained grace of the Japanese women she is writing about.

This novel was so moving. The story still haunts me... If you enjoy stories of mothers & daughters, sisters, family secrets, this book will not disappoint. ( )
  quzy | Mar 24, 2010 |
“Favorites” is a novel of relationships; mainly of mothers and daughters but also of sisters and cousins and aunts. Three generations of women have their relationships with each other bound by a secret that they all know, but must not talk about: One woman, widowed with one child already and another on the way in war-torn Japan, gave up her baby daughter to her sister-in-law. The two families live side by side, observing strict rules of behavior towards each other.

The first part of the story is told largely through the eyes of Sarah Rexford, fourteen when the novel starts. Half American, half Japanese, she and her mother- daughter of the woman who gave up one child- are visiting Japan. Although Sarah spent her early childhood in Japan, and knows how to behave properly, she is now old enough to question things and learn the secret. Through her learning of traditional Japanese ways, we learn them. It’s a bit lecture-y at times, but because it’s a parent instructing a child, it’s not too heavy handed. This is how we learn *why* the women must act as they do.

As we go further into the story, we see deeper into the relationships. Though there are men in the households, they almost never appear- it’s all about the women. The different degrees of love between them, their losses. It’s a very touching novel that burrows down into the heart. Although she’s been a short story writer for sometime, this is Waters’s first novel, but it has the power of a fully developed novelist. I look forward eagerly for further work from this writer. ( )
2 vote lauriebrown54 | Dec 29, 2009 |
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For my mother
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It was an early morning in June 1978, and the Ueno neighborhood was just beginning to stir.
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