Love In Translation
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 24 2009, $13.99
Thirty three year old Celeste Duncan extrapolates her present into the future and what she sees is ennui. She needs a change with her job and with her sort of boyfriend, but the wannabe singer fears taking the first step professionally or personally.
However, Celeste receives an odd phone call and a box arrives filled with heirlooms; clues to the unknown father she never met. On a whim based on these new items being omens, she flies from San Jose to Japan in a ten hour airborne sardine can flight to meet her father. When she meets her English-speaking homestay “brother” Takuya she wants to kiss him senseless, but holds in check the desire. He helps her follow the clues especially with translating Japanese into English. As they travel across Japan, Celeste finds she is falling in love with her twenty-eight tears old guide, but his mom has his former girlfriend in mind for a daughter-in-law. As the trek increasingly looks futile, a despondent Celeste wonders if it is time to return the land of boredom.
This is a fun yet profound tale due to the lead female who uses self deprecating amusing metaphors to describe her despondency over her life back in the States and her seeming failures in Japan. The story line is character driven as the audience will enjoy Celeste’s fumbling with the culture starting with her practiced words in Japanese that she thought meant thank you for welcoming her, but instead her teacher tricked her and she proposed. Fans will enjoy An American in Japan falling in love with her homestay brother, the culture and the people as she searches for her biological father.