Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snow Falling On Cedars

'The accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant's table - the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial. Some in the gallery would later say that his stillness suggested a disdain for the proceedings; others felt certain it veiled a fear of the verdict that was to come. Whichever it was, Kabuo showed nothing - not even a flicker of the eyes. He was dressed in a white shirt worn buttoned to the throat and gray, neatly pressed trousers. His figure, especially the neck and shoulders, communicated the impression of irrefutable physical strength and of precise, even imperial bearing. Kabuo's features were smooth and angular; his hair had been cropped close to his skull in a manner that made its musculature prominent. In the face of the charge that had been leveled against him he sat with his dark eyes trained straight ahead and did not appear moved at all.'
First paragraph of Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson

I read this book as part of two different challenges. The first being the What's In a Name Challenge for the plant category and the second being my 5th book for the Back to History Challenge .

What an excellent read, emotional on so many different levels. The author writes so well that you can smell the musty ancient cedar forests as the rain drips onto the ferns. The warm sun beats down on us as we squat with the characters to pick juicy red strawberries from the local fields. This novel takes us to San Piedro Island in the Puget Sound of Washington State for a murder trial in 1954. Kabuo Miyamota, a gill-netter of Japanese descent stands accused of the murder of fellow fisherman and childhood friend, Carl Heine. Carl has been found dead in his own nets with a blow to the head. To understand why Kabuo is accused of this horrific crime we must go back in time to the days of their boyhood and the townsfolk around them. The story is narrated by Ishmael Chambers, the local newspaper man who also grew-up on the island beside the two other men. Ishmael had a long standing first romance with Hatsue Imada, who is now the accused man's wife, so this is also a tale of forbidden interracial love that ends abruptly when Pearl Harbor is bombed and the Japanese-Americans from the island are sent to interment camps in Montana and California.
Many of the local boys join the service, including those of Japanese descent, to defend our country. On returning, things have changed. The war has left many scars behind, both visible and invisible.
This is a novel of murder, mystery, racism, world war II, interment camps and forbidden romance. One that I will keep on my shelves and recommend many to read. Very, very good.

'One hour later, inside the cedar tree, she brought this matter up with Ishmael. "We've known each other forever," she said. "I can hardly remember not knowing you. It's hard to remember the days before you. I don't even know if there were any."'


Blogger Stacey's Treasures said...

This is an excelent book!
It is one that I am keeping on my book shelf & have another one by this author that I have yet to read.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous The Biblio Brat said...

Thanks for posting this - as I just recently picked this book up at a book sale benefiting our local library.

Great review!

1:22 PM  
Blogger alisonwonderland said...

great review! i read this book a number of years ago and really loved it. my mother-in-law and her parents were sent to an internment camp during WWII, so i've read quite a few things about that experience. i thought Snow Falling on Cedars is one of the best about expressing the emotions of that time.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Mary said...


This sounds like a great read. I am going to check it out at the library if they have it. I would certainly enjoy it.

I have just posted an update on the Back to History Challenge. I've read quite a few books since January, but chose three that I enjoyed the most.

Have a great weekend.

7:44 PM  

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