The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

A Five Star Pick

Dictionary of Mutual UnderstandingJackie Copleton has written a fine debut.  How do I know?  Is reading the book literally in ONE day enough proof that the novel is engrossing?  I was the first to take home this gem from my library and it was due back with two people waiting for it.  In other words, I wouldn’t have been able to renew it.  Why did it take me till the due date to read it?  I was reading something else that was also on a waiting list (more on that in another post).  The life of a reader, I tell ya!  Three reasons it caught my attention: 1) the title (very unique—and no, it is not a dictionary nor a self-help book), 2) the reviews, 3) the plot.  If you are a fan of Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha or The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, this story will suit you completely.  When aging Ama is visited by a stranger at her American address, claiming he is her long-lost grandson who survived the horrible Nagasaki bombing in 1945, she is skeptical.  The reason she and her late husband moved from Japan after the tragedy was because they no longer had any family left: not their daughter, son-in-law nor grandson.  How this man finds her and where he was able to acquire documentation to bring up demons from her past, causes Ama to reflect on key moments in her life.  She is also forced to examine the difficult relationship she once had with her only daughter and try to reconcile with mistakes made.  Each chapter starts off with a definition of a Japanese word, explaining how it is relevant to the story.  It is a tale about love, family, guilt and forgiveness.  There will be tears.  You will not want to put it down.  I’m so glad I got to finish it 🙂


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