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Publisher's Summary

Set on the island of Okinawa today and during World War II, this deeply moving and evocative novel tells the entwined stories of two teenage girls - an American and an Okinawan - whose lives are connected across 70 years by the shared experience of both profound loss and renewal.
Luz, a contemporary U.S. Air Force brat, lives with her no-nonsense sergeant mother at Kadena Air Base. Luz's older sister, her best friend and emotional center, has died in the Afghan war. Unmoored by her death, unable to lean on her mother, Luz contemplates taking her own life.
In l945, Tamiko has lost everyone - the older sister she idolized and her entire family - and finds herself trapped between the occupying Japanese and the invading Americans whom she has been taught are demons that live to rape.
On an island where the spirits of the dead are part of life and the afterworld reunites you with your family, suicide offers Tamiko the promise of peace. As Luz tracks down the story of her own Okinawan grandmother, she discovers that the ancestral spirits work as readily to save her as they do to help Tamiko find a resting place. And as these two stories unfold and intertwine, we see how war and American occupation have shaped and reshaped the lives of Okinawans.
©2014 Sarah Bird (P)2014 Recorded Books
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By SydSavvy on 10-20-14

Perfect Blend of Past and Present, Them vs. Us

This is a departure for Sara that might put her in the literary hall of fame -- Sara is a writer for Texas Monthly and lives in Austin, ( I think?). Thank you Book People in Austin for putting this one on my horizon.

This book about Okinawa then and now is beautiful and haunting and wonderful, and I'd like to go hear Sara discuss how she wrote it. It somewhat reminds me of The Good Earth meets Memoirs of a Geisha meets Eleanor and Park. Fictional story that promotes the idea of Americans getting in touch with their history and beautifully shows the history of Okinawa even prior to its occupation by Japan and then America. What is family? What is love? How does a young girl know the path to take? How do we deal with loss? What place in our lives do our ancestors have? How does our country matter in our lives? These questions are all raised, as each character encounters life, family, love and country on a grand scale.

Note: it does start slowly with a dual time line of teen angst that is almost wearying. But then bam, it takes off so don't quit it. This is not just another YA pining offering.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By ReenieB on 09-27-14

moments of magic

The complex relationships of sisterhood are powerful influences in my life and Sarah Bird beautifully captures the many facets of those oft challenging interactions in this story of 2 pairs of sisters, linked by family, time and the tragedy of Okinawa's history. For me, it also redefines the idea of a ghost story - in the best possible transformation and delivered by a stellar cast.

As a writer, Sarah Bird has come of age with this well crafted and ambitious work. Though it starts off sounding like another YA coming of age story, Luz and Tamiko are characters worth knowing.

This is one I'll read again and again.

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