Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Club Pick: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

If you're looking for a novel for a great book club meeting, you may want to consider A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton. I read it for a book club discussion at Rancho La Puerta, and the discussion was lively and fun. The premise is intriguing.

Amaterasu Takahashi has never gotten over losing her daughter, Yuko, and her young grandson, Hideo, forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. She and her husband emigrated to the US to be far away from their home so they could begin to heal. But her husband dies leaving Amateratsu alone, and a grown man with a badly scarred face shows up at her home in Pennslyvania with a package of letters from people she used to know in Japan. The man claims to be her grandson, Hideo. Amaterasu doesn't know if she believes him and isn't sure that she wants to read the letters.  

This book isn't a traditional murder mystery, although the book is filled with mysteries - is the man claiming to be Hideo truly Amaterasu's grandson? What is the real reason that she and her husband left Japan to live in the US - the people who sent the bomb that killed her loved ones? Who wrote the letters that the mystery man brought with him? Can the information in the letters be trusted? What really happened to Yuko in Nagasaki? Why does Amaterasu blame herself? 

I think you can see what I mean about excellent book club fodder. 

The author does an amazing job portraying challenging and emotional subject matter. It's even more amazing since Jackie Copleton is not Japanese.

The publisher, Penguin, has an online Book Club kit, including recipes to go along with the novel discussion. It makes an excellent companion to the book. A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding has everything you could want in a book club pick. 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds great and mysteries do not always have to be killing, murder and mayhem.