In 1954 on San Piedro Island, just off the coast of mainland Washington, a Japanese-American fisherman by the name of Kabuo Miyamoto goes on trial for the murder of a local, well-liked fisherman, Carl Heine, who was also a well-respected war veteran. The community on the island is small, and no one likes to rock the boat.
As a result, the community appears quiet and brooding. David Guterson doesn’t just address the mystery of what happened to Carl Heine, but he addresses the scars of war on the local veterans, the effects of racism on the Japanese-American citizens post-World War II, and a love story between two people who could never be together.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
This certainly isn’t a page-turner that will keep you at the edge of your seat as someone solves the mystery. It’s a book you’ll want to take your time with. A story that deserves your full attention. In return, it will reward you with a title you’ll remember for years to come.
The summary focuses on Carl Heine’s death because that’s how it begins. But David Guterson takes it much deeper than that. Because on the island of San Piedro, there’s a lot more to it. A community still suffering the aftershocks of World War II, as many of the war veterans begin their lives again. They try to remember what it was like before the war. But many fought in the Pacific, leading to a distrust of their Japanese-American neighbors.
Even those who didn’t fight in the war believe their Japanese-American neighbors can’t be trusted. The man placed on trial, Kabuo Miyamoto, believes he will not be able to get a fair trial due to the racism that pervades the community. This wariness of those who look a little different leads to a Romeo and Juliet story between Ishmael, the editor of the town newspaper, and Hatsue, Kabuo’s wife, before she was married. But their story isn’t the only one David Guterson expands on.
Each character receives a backstory to explain their actions, their thoughts, and their place in the community. The only complaint I have of this book is the great detail into each character can be a bit boring at times. I just wanted to know whodunnit! But that’s not really what this book is about. I had to remind myself of that a few times. It’s a quiet book, one that may not scream at you from the shelves at the book store, but it slowly leads you into a small, isolated community, woven so intricately together that nothing could ever truly pick apart every strand.
Overall, I would recommend this book to a busy mom. But I would caution you to consider that this book requires a lot of attention. So if you’re looking for something to read when you have a little extra time to devote to an amazing book, I say go for it!
Four out of five stars
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If you enjoyed my review of Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, you might also like Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing Snow Falling on Cedars, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.