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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A gritty bike journey through the US West coast, Japan and finally, Vietnam. An (Andrew) bikes through all these places in search of himself, even though he is often more lost on his introspective journey than when he began. Interspersed with the tale of his travels are flashes to the past when he was a child in Vietnam before, during, and after the war, and as an immigrant in the US, ending up in Los Angeles.
An has a lot of self hate, and he seems to be searching for a way to like himself: if he can only find a reason to like the Vietnamese, he might learn to like himself. I’m not certain that ever happens, but he has a grand adventure trying.
All in all, very entertaining. I always wanted to know what would happen next and I found his ability to keep going despite his setbacks inspiring. I would have liked a bit more of an ending, but this is a memoir, so I’ll have to live with reality.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Based on the Japanese myth (the same one The Decemberists wrote about) Patrick Ness has woven a modern day fantasy in his book The Crane Wife. The crane comes to George in the dead of night, needing help and support and getting it of course, as these fairy tales begin.
This one is a bit on the dark side though. As George struggles to break the arrow and remove it from her wing, he’s freezing to death and contemplating his shortcomings as a man and a human. The complex character building continues through the book with most of the major characters. The only one we don’t get to know is Kumiko, the crane, the wife, who should be a mystery.
I love the art work they create through the book. It gives an added depth I didn’t think possible. I enjoy paper art; making it, looking at it, exploring the possibilities, and the multi-media art that makes George and Kumiko semi-famous, a little richer, and builds the story is just the right touch to really draw me the rest of the way in.
This book was effortless for me. It flowed, the characters were flawed but relateable and the whole thing just took me out of time and place, sat me down and read to me.