Review | The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

“Worry gives a small thing big shadows.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: white kimonos, letters, new homes, the military, cemeteries, new friendships, old photos and the massive cultural differences between Americans and the Japanese.

Oceans and decades apart, two women are inextricably bound by the secrets between them.

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage to the son of her father’s business associate would secure her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community, but Naoko has fallen for another man—an American sailor, a gaijin—and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation—one that calls into question everything she understood about him, her family and herself. Setting out to learn the truth behind the letter, Tori’s journey leads her halfway around the world to a remote seaside village in Japan, where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

In breathtaking prose and inspired by true stories from a devastating and little-known era in Japanese and American history, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.

This book was absolutely stunning!

Maybe I’m being biased because sometimes it reminded me of my all-time favorite book “Memoirs of a Geisha”, but I couldn’t help falling in love with this story. I admit I didn’t have a lot of expectations when I first picked up this book because I never even heard about it before, but it turned out to be a great book with a great story.

Let’s start with the writing! This book is beautifully written and the reading experience is very immersive. Not only will you feel like you traveled in time, but you also get a good glimpse of what life in Japan was like in 1957. Clearly the author did a lot of research to create an accurate atmosphere, and as a reader I appreciate it a lot. Another thing I thought was cool is that the author used Japanese terms in the book like for example “Okasa” – mother – because it added another layer on creating a good and accurate setting for the story.

I also liked how the author used two different time periods for the story. It worked very well, and by the time these timelines converge the story is blended perfectly and the big revelation is made!

One thing I thought was really interesting was knowing the author based this book on a real story. The inspiration came from someone close to her that lived a similar reality, so she worked on this fictional story for years before publishing it. So kudos to her for creating this work of art based on a true story!

This is so much more than a love story. It’s a story about heartbreak, love and loss. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but definitely worth the time. Just remember to grab your tissues before picking this one up!

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