Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Favorites - Mary Yukari Waters

With work ramping up this summer, I've been happy to find time to keep reading while at the gym or during my commute. Sadly, however, I'm having trouble finding time to update the blog! So, I'm going to race few some of my descriptions for the next couple months, but hopefully, I'll still keep finding great books and encouraging people to send me recommendations. The Favorites is the story of 14-year old Sarah, half-Japanese, half-American, who travels with her mother to stay with her grandmother in Kyoto. The family lives next door to Sarah's great-aunt, aunt, and cousins, but Sarah quickly discovers that family relationships in Japan don't always come with the same rules and expectations as those in America. As Sarah learns to maneuver the traditional ways, and better understand the secondary meaning of passing looks and comments, she also comes to better understand her own mother. I really appreciated Sarah's position as a child trying to understand the bigger world around her, and her frustration that the adults always seem to make it more difficult than it needed to be. The book, however, deals (in part) with the theme of inter-family adoption. Clearly, there are delicate situations involved in such an arrangement, but I felt the author did not honor the position of the adopted parent as someone that could actually develop a bond with a child, or love a child as much as a biological parent. Obviously, every family is different, but I had a hard time not feeling that many of the characters had spent decades modeling and conforming their behavior based on false assumptions about the true nature of love and family. And, in the end, it just left me feeling quite depressed.

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