The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo HigashinoYasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. But he shows up one day to extort money from her and ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko's next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.
Ishigami is one devoted next-door neighbor! The author managed to capture the loneliness of the people involved, as well as the brilliance of Ishigami (he reminds me of detective Robert Goren in Law & Order Criminal Intent - smart, but troubled with personal demons), and the lengths he will go to because he is infatuated with Yasuko. Although we know ... or rather, think we know ... the crime that has occurred, and who did it, the author still managed to keep up the intrigue & give me a surprise ending. Loved it - and I'm glad I picked it up (wanted to read a book set in Japan for the 2014 Winter Olympics Reading Challenge).
The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka.Narrated by: Samantha Quan. This story traces the extraordinary lives a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as "picture brides" nearly a century ago. From their arduous journey by boat, to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and their struggles to master a new language and a new culture.
What a brilliant choice for the narration of this book to be in the first person plural! It really brought home the story and I felt it made the book much stronger than if it was told by just 1 person. It was a difficult, emotional story to tell indeed, and the author & narrator both did a fantastic job making me relate to the lives of the mail order Japanese brides who sailed to America shortly after 1907. Can you imagine going to a new country, thinking you're going to meet up with a handsome, young man who you've been exchanging letters with - and then meeting with the reality of an ugly, old man, not to mention a life of toiling in the fields under the hot sun or intense cold - and not even being able to tell your family back home the truth?! My heart so went out to these women! Switching to the perspective of the people in the towns in which the women resided, close to the end of the book, was another genius move in my opinion - it was definitely interesting to hear what the towns folk were thinking of these strange new women.
The only thing that was a negative for me, was that saying essentially the same thing many times got to be a bit repetitive towards the end. And, perhaps because I was listening to the audiobook version instead of having the physical book in my hands, I found the ending was a bit abrupt. I was just settling in, wondering what the Japanese women would say of life in the detention centers ... when I heard, The END. Grrr - I guess that means it was a good book, since I was looking forward to more, and disappointed when I didn't get it. (Amazon| Goodreads)
Thanks again, Tanya for sharing your reviews! Don't forget to pick up the April cupcake at the end of the month!