Book Review – Losing Kei: A Novel

Losing Kei: A NovelLosing Kei
Written By: Suzanne Kamata
Published By: Leapfrog Press
Date: January 1st, 2008
Pages: 195
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0972898492

Losing Kei is a stirring novel that probes beneath Japanese tradition and reveals the strength and the power of a mother’s love.”

Product Description –
“A young mother fights impossible odds to be reunited with her child in this acutely insightful first novel about an intercultural marriage gone terribly wrong.
Jill Parker is an American painter living in Japan. Far from the trendy gaijin neighborhoods of downtown Tokyo, she’s settled in a remote seaside village where she makes ends meet as a bar hostess. Her world appears to open when she meets Yusuke, a savvy and sensitive art gallery owner who believes in her talent. But their love affair, and subsequent marriage, is doomed to a life of domestic hell, for Yusuke is the chonan, the eldest son, who assumes the role of rigid patriarch in his traditional family while Jill’s duty is that of a servile Japanese wife. A daily battle of wills ensues as Jill resists instruction in the proper womanly arts. Even the long-anticipated birth of a son, Kei, fails to unite them. Divorce is the only way out, but in Japan a foreigner has no rights to custody, and Jill must choose between freedom and abandoning her child.
Told with tenderness, humor, and an insider’s knowledge of contemporary Japan, Losing Kei is the debut novel of an exceptional expatriate voice.”

Losing Kei is a wonderful book; this story guides the reader through a gauntlet of emotions while it reveals some distressing Japanese customs, laws and rituals. Suzanne Kamata writes an intensely-poignant novel that will tug at the heartstrings of any mother or father who reads it; Losing Kei transported me to Japan where I stayed from the beginning of the book right through to the end. The time-line alternates between Jill Parker’s current life and her not to distant past. When Jill, an American artist, marries a Japanese man and gives birth to his son, she feels truly blessed to be so fortunate. At the same time however, Jill feels intense pressure to conform to traditions and customs that are not her own. The narrative is gritty and very realistic; much of the story has a melancholy undertone and it’s tinged with a bruised sadness. Emotions are raw and vibrant; you can picture Jill’s struggles in your mind’s eye and feel her emotional pain as your own. Duty, inherited responsibility and a unique way of life threatens to destroy Jill’s hard-won happiness and take her away from the one she loves most in the world. As time passes and more of the story unfolds, Jill’s biggest fear becomes reality when she loses her beloved son, Kei.
Just ask yourself: what lengths would you go to, too get YOUR child back?
I highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

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A special thanks to Sheri at A Novel Menagerie for sending me a copy to review, on behalf of the author.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy