Monday, January 11, 2016

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love
When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?


A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is a novel that sets a mood while evoking rich emotion. The story reaches back in time to Nagasaki Japan during World War II on the day the bomb fell. From there, it describes the horrific aftermath, carnage, and death as families are forever altered or separated. several goals. It is very much a story about "what if" and explores the guilt and anguish suffered by the Japanese people. 

Amaterasu suffered the loss of her daughter and beloved grandson that day that started so normally, but ended with so much devastation. Unable to find her loved ones, after some time, Amaterasu and her husband leave to begin a new life in the United States. Decades pass and then one day, a horribly disfigure young man shows up on her doorstep - it is her grandson - long believed dead. 
At first there is denial, but through letters, Amaterasu begins to read and converse with the young man, slowly revealing, one by one, her darkest secrets and lost hope. 

This is an easy to read, but very complicated tale filled with not only a great deal of historical detail, but that explores the human psyche's emotions of love, loss, and survival. 5 stars is not enough for a book of this quality. It is creative, bold, and packs a powerful punch! Many life lessons are shared by a cast of highly believable, intense characters. A must read! Loved this book immensely, but get ready for a roller coaster ride that will rip the emotions right out of your chest!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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