Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Title: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Author: Jackie Copleton
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: December 1, 2015 (Tomorrow!)
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?: 

From "When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?"

My Two Cents:

"The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding" is a historical fiction book that has parts set both during the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II and about 40 years later. It's a debut novel that really packs a punch! The author takes on one of the most horrifying events in human history, the bombing of Nagasaki and turns it into a story of family and family secrets while still retaining the shock and outrage of the original event.

Because of the subject matter, the story is often difficult to read. This is a relatively short book but I had to keep taking breaks because the characters memories of the bombing made me want to take pause. I really like that the author was able to create realistic characters that made the entire story feel very real indeed to me. Our main character is now an older woman who is trying to still forget her past life in Japan during World War II. Her pain is still palpable and she has a hard time believing the man that shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her grandson.

The book is pretty well written. There are a couple places where I wish that we had a little more detail in order to really understand the feelings of the characters. At times, I felt like I was being held at a distance from the characters. Overall, this is a very powerful book that puts a human spin on what it actually felt like to have lived through the bombings and what it did to so many families. This book is a good pick for all of my fellow historical fiction fans.



  1. I'm really undecided about this one. It sound interesting...but it also sounds like a very intense read. I'll add it to my list...for later.

  2. I got this one in the mail - it looks interesting!

    Kate @ Ex Libris


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