Book Title: KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home
Author: B. Jeanne Shibahara
Publisher: B. Jeanne Shibahara (Self-Published)
Publication Date: October 13th 2018
Genres: Humor, General, Historical Fiction
Trigger Warning/s: war, blood, death
“In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.”
Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”
I received an eARC of this book from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions in any way.
This review is long overdue as I have planned to read this book ages ago, but never really came around to doing it as life always gets in the way. Fast forward many months later, here I am, wishing I’ve picked this one up sooner.
KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home follows Meryl Quist, a Vietnam war widow, as she acquires a flag belonging to a fallen WWII Japanese soldier. With a helpful nudge from her cousin, father and (mostly) her son’s professor, Meryl sets out for a life-changing adventure to take the flag home to Japan.
This story is unlike any I’ve ever read before. Through Meryl’s quest, we get to see a glimpse of Japan’s rich culture, from before, during and after the war. Through the author’s writing, it was like I’m visiting Japan myself. Every scene was so vivid, everyone lifelike. It wasn’t so much as reading it, as it was experiencing it. Now, more than ever, I want to see the marvelous cities of Japan, not for its tourist destinations, but for its curious history and culture.
I also have to mention how this book has ignited my interest for ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. The multiple references of this in the story were just so pretty, which eventually prompted me to research on this as soon as I finished the book.
Meryl Quist, having been widowed all too soon, can’t seem to come to terms with her husband’s death. Her husband was an airforce pilot in the Vietnam, and to read about her perspective, how this affects her still, it was very touching for me. To know how she felt very powerless about the things that happened; that she, despite not being in or witnessing the battle herself, remained very scarred from the war, showed me her depths as a character. Merly’s journey throughout the book is truly inspiring, and it felt like an honor to witness her perspective in life removed all the grief and sorrow she carried before.
Meanwhile, Meryl’s story has also given readers the opportunity to meet a lot of other noteworthy characters including Professor Greg, Darryl, Fiona, Jo, Mr. Ono and, my personal favorite, Ms. Kawanishi. I love how the author not only introduced us to these characters, but has given them backstories of how they come to be as well. With this, I have gone through a series of emotions as if these characters were people I know in real life.
As I have mentioned, Ms. Kawanishi is my favorite among all the characters. Despite not being the main protagonist of the story, I have realized that her character is the most complex out of all them, her backstory the most interesting from the moment she was introduced. In such a few amount of pages, her childhood up until her life as an adult has made its way to my heart.
Also, the author did a fantastic job weaving together two different aspects of the characters’ lives: their memories and their present lives. It is also worth mentioning that I am very grateful how the romance aspect in this wasn’t too much, or else it will risk overpowering the main essence of the book.
I never imagined that this would be a light read from the start; I had a few moments where I had to put my e-reader down, just to take it all in or if the scene gets too emotional for me. Nevertheless, I am happy to be given the opportunity to read this.
Even though this is not something I would normally pick up before, I highly recommend you check this book out, especially since the eBook is only $0.99 on both Amazon and Nook. With gorgeous original paintings and a beautifully-written story, KA-E-RO-U Time To Go Home will leave you breathtaken as you accompany the characters in a journey of self-discovery.