Recently, Gail Tsukiyama came to our local library to talk about her new book (this one). I had read her first book back in my first book club - Women of the Silk, and I have never forgotten it. Set in the silk factories in China, and telling the stories of the women who worked there, it is my favorite kind of book - the kind where as you are engrossed in a fantastic story you can't put down, you are also learning something about some other culture or people.
I found Gail in person to be so charming and wonderful. As she talked about all of her books in succession, I realized that all of them sounded like they were my favorite kind of books! This latest one especially intrigued me: Set in Japan during the second World War, it is the story of a boy who dreams of being a sumo wrestler, and then grows up to be one - and his brother, who longs to be a mask maker for the Japanese Noh theater. Gail insists on educating you fully about the subjects of her books, so you will read lots of description about sumo and Noh theatre. Luckily, it's not like reading a dry non-fiction research book. She skillfully weaves this information into an engaging, richly characterized book about family drama, love and loss.
I admit that it took me a fair while to get into this book, and there was a moment early on when I considered not going further. BUT, I really do think that it's more of a statement about the harried nature of my life than it is about this book. I'm having difficulty finding relaxed time to read. I'm so glad I didn't give up on this one! I loved it, and look forward to reading all of her books I've missed in the interim between her first book and this latest one.