Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Under the romantic setting of Japan, Dr. Marcus Samuels works there as a medical missionary at the Childrens Christian Mission Hospital. His whole life has centred on him doing God's work, but after twelve years of being away from home, he feels he has to go back to the US and make another family for himself away from a foreign land. Now that he is forty, he thinks he might not attract any women at all, but he would be wrong in that assumption, and there are those around him who would definitely prove him wrong indeed!
The reason for his sudden decision is his mother taking ill. Guilt mixed with panic makes him leave, yet he knows he has a life in Japan too. With Keiko and Haruki around who are the paediatricians who work with him, he knows by leaving there, he will feel as though he is being pulled in two different directions. If he leaves he will miss Japan and the people there, if he doesn't he risks not seeing his mother when he should and the possibility of starting a new family with a wife who will care about him.
Keiko tells him how she feels about him leaving, and can't take the loss of being without him. He on the other hand has never thought of Keiko as anything other than his best friend, yet in her he could see a potential wife, though there is one problem that could stand in their way. Her family are strict about her changing her religion to Christian, and her doing so could cause a rift between her family and him. So for the both of them, leaving Japan has the power to be life changing.
I loved the way Karen explained the Japanese words used in her novel. I have a liking of Japanese culture in general, and their language, and anyone else out there who has a similar liking will enjoy this book. Readers will find out how Keiko feels when she thinks about her own family and their staunch traditions. Their definition of respect is different than in the West, and she sees that the Japanese way is very selfish and doesn't allow room for her own thoughts and opinions at all. Showing respect toward the family is seen as uncomfortable and a burden, and views Western life much easier as a result. He likes how independent she would like to be, and the fact that they have been together for so long as best friends tells him she might just be the woman for him and his new life abroad.
The question is, will he leave?