Snow Falling on Cedars
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Top customer reviews
The story is told from the point of view of several characters, as the trial progresses and each character either takes the stand or watches from the gallery, they tell their story. The shifting of focus onto each character really works, the timeline shifts but it's easy to follow and with each new exposition you learn something new and your opinion changes.
I had no idea that Japanese people were rounded up in America during the 2nd World War and put into camps. I guess a similar thing happened in the UK, but I've never heard of it. This was contrasted by people of German descent who were left alone, why was this? I can only guess that the Japanese attack on Hawaii made them the enemy of the USA more than the Germans. Or was it because the Japanese looked so different? I found the history of how the war affected different people in different way fascinating and how stereotypes and racism were hard to avoid.
The island is central to this book, the way it isolates the action makes everything seem larger but the pace slower. I even looked up on a map where this island was, it's not real but is probably based on San Juan Island between Seattle and Victoria (Anacortes is a real place and that was the closest town on the mainland, so I think my investigative skills are OK).
It's really well written, the characters are very real and it's easy to get sucked into the did-he-do-it or didn't-he?
Though already aware of how the Japanese were treated during the war, I hadn't really thought about those people who were native Germans or Italians who were not scapegoated , plucked from their homes and incarcerated. Appearance must have had some persuasive power in deciding their place in a country at war. They could be read by looking at them. The Japanese could not.
Could go on and on about the structure of the book, the doomed relations between the damaged Ishmael and hisadred Hatsue, the contrasting mothers, the so different lawyers and the island itself as a microcosm of greater world. I enjoyed it on this my third reading and will probably read it again
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