"Like the heart of the earth exploding"

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding: A Novel - Jackie Copleton

This a gorgeously written, multi-level literary fiction.  The author has the heart of a poet and she certainly touched my heart many times throughout this moving, compelling story.  This story is about so many things but mostly about Amaterasu Takahashi and her love for her daughter, Yuko, and the actions she takes to protect her beloved daughter from harm.  Her story brought me to tears. 


The book begins when a strange man, horribly scarred by the bombing of Nagasaki, knocks on Amaterasu’s door one day, proclaiming to be her grandson, Hideo, who she believed had died as a child during the bombing so many years ago.  Thus begins Amaterasu’s journey through her memories.  There was no tearing me away from this book as I journeyed with her through her youth and marriage and then through the devastation of Nagasaki in August, 1945 through her meeting with the man who may or may not be her grandson 40 years later.  The story is mostly told through memories, letters and diaries and jumps back and forth, but it’s very easy to follow the flow of the story.


I particularly liked that each chapter started with an English word or phrase, then the Japanese word for that word or phrase, and then an explanation of the Japanese understanding of that word or phrase.  This wonderfully set the tone for each chapter and nicely conveyed Japanese culture so there was an even better understanding of the story line and the characters living it.


This is a devastating tale of war, a heartrending family drama and an exceptional love story.  It’s completely unpredictable and unique and is one that I won’t forget.  Highly recommended.


This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.