When one reads book reviews, words such as “compelling”, “truly remarkable”, “heartstopping” and “flawless” can often be a dime a dozen. I have to admit, that despite my love of such reading material, I don’t follow any reviewers, nor do I seek out recommendations. Rather my books are chosen off the shelf for the colour of their spine, the look and feel of them, the author’s name or – dare I say it – the picture on the front cover. Rarely do I buy a new book – and those that I do, tend to be Lonely Planet Guidebooks!
I’d picked up “Snow Falling on Cedars” in a thrift store in Canada. My first thrift store that I had ever stepped into – Canada style that is. I’d walked past the sign that told me it was “Seniors 20% off day”, past the racks of winter coats, the shelves of 2nd hand shoes, and the cabinets laden with china, cake stands and dishracks. The bookshelves were at the back of this store and it was to be my first Canadian book purchase...ever!
For some reason “Snow Falling on Cedars” caught my attention. Perhaps it was the quality of the paperback, still shiny and new without dog-earred corners, or pages that smelt like the inside of your nana’s handbag. The description on the back located the story near Seattle, across the water from my new home on Vancouver Island. That alone, cemented it as my purchase of the day, and book number seven for the year.
That was last week – I’ve now reached the end of a “compelling”, “truly remarkable”, “heartstopping” and “flawlessly written” book. A book that contains a number of stories within its pages, intertwined and so cleverly written by author David Guterson. “Snow Falling on Cedars”, a murder-mystery, is set in the courtroom, in a cedar forest, and in the memories of its characters. It involves a local fisherman, a Japanese-American, and a harmonious community that harbours resentment as thick as the fog that surrounds the island during this week in 1954. It’s a story of love, honour, and prejudice; childhood dreams, family feuds, and war. Gently written, it carries the reader in its arms right through to the very last page.
Now how’s that for a review!