Sunday, April 12, 2015

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Murder or Misfortune?  (Love and War)

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is about a murder trial—the accused a Japanese American man in 1954 on an island in the Puget Sound.  As the trial is chronicled, we jump into flashbacks of the people involved in the case—flashbacks of life on the island off Washington state, of love, war, and internment camps.  The full descriptions brought me right into the lives of hardworking farmers and fishermen.  It also defined the racial tensions before, during, and after December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Even years after the war, racial tensions against Japanese Americans were strong, but were they strong enough to taint justice for the man accused of murdering a white man? Or—did Kabuo Miyamoto really kill Carl Heine? 

This was a good book. I enjoyed slowly learning the backgrounds of the key players, the possible motive of the accused, and the emotions of everyone involved.  As the trial unfolded and facts were revealed, it all started to shed more light on the matter.  It was sort of like turning on one of the new fluorescent bulbs that have taken over shelves in stores, the bulbs that make you stumble around in the dark while they take their good old time warming up until you can finally see everything clearly, only the book was a pleasant experience.   
I’m glad that after sitting on a shelf for years and years, I finally picked this book up and read it.  It probably wouldn’t have happened if not for “the book lottery.”  A few weeks ago I finally decided to try a Pinterest suggestion:  A Book Lottery. I compiled a list of all the books I own that I have not yet read. Quite a chore considering piles are all over the house:  on bookshelves upstairs and downstairs, mounds in almost every room, and one stack clawing its way up the side of my fireplace.  I discovered I have a LOT of books waiting for my attention, 75 books—good books that I forget I have when it’s time to pick the next read. After I made my list, I printed it, cut up and folded each book title, and put it in my “reading jar.”  Then I let my husband pull my next selection. 

I have to say it was kind of exciting not knowing what book I was going to read next.  My heart was beating just a little bit faster as I passed the jar to my husband.  Of course, they’re all my books—they’re all winners—but the awful truth was I did have a stronger draw towards some books more than others. It was like pulling a vacation destination out of a hat.  Sure, Iceland would be nice, but let’s face it, Greece and Hawaii are warmer and sunnier.  This game I was playing had the potential of turning from a friendly game of lottery into a round of Russian Roulette.  Shamefully, deep down I was hoping it would not be Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities

I breathed a big sigh of relief when he dangled Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson in front of me. It was also a movie, but I never saw it. So, I finally dusted it off and cracked it open—and I really liked it.

Happy reading and good luck with your book lottery.

This book met a several of my 2015 Book Club Challenges: Read a book set in winter, snow, or ice.  Read a book that has or will become a movie.  Read a book set on an island.  Read a book that has 400+ pages.

Happy Reading,


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