Adventures in Reading

John Hamamura’s Color of the Sea: On Sexual Content
February 16, 2008, 8:14 pm
Filed under: fiction, thoughtful

I finished part one of John Hamamura’s Color of the Sea and it has been an interesting experience as I am not only reading for my own enjoyment but doing my best to interpret how others would enjoy the novel. Isamu – nicknamed Sam – leaves Japan and joins his father working in Hawaii while still a child. His father Yasubei is the end of a family line of samurai and lives in Hawaii to work and send money home to his family.

I last posted that I was keeping my eye open for the gender of the book and thus far I see no reason why it would be considered “chick lit” or “too masculine.” However, the issue I stumbled across was sexual content.

I mentioned previously that my One Book, One Community committee had rejected Snow Falling On Cedars and at our meeting I inquired exactly why this was so. I am afraid I did not receive a direct answer on this, but learned that last year one of the local high schools took issue with the book. Also I believe I have mentioned that my One Book program is more all encompassing than some and wants to find a novel that is suitable for high school freshman and up. So, when I came to the chapter “Weeding” (as well as some comments through later chapters) I was left wondering what is appropriate for a high school student to read.

Without retyping the entire chapter, Sam and Yuriko are attracted to one another and she invites him over to seduce him. It works until the two are interrupted by the American man that “keeps” Yuriko. Hamamura uses anatomically correct language including “nipple” and “erect penis,” which could not bother me in the least but certainly had me curious in regards to the freshman reading level. The language is neither superfluous nor unnecessary.

A co-worker of mine, with freshman aged children, read the chapter and said she had no problems with it particularly if you take into consideration that every other young woman seems to be devouring the Clique or Gossip Girls novels. Regardless, I did flag the chapter and will bring it up at the next meeting.

Otherwise though, the book is wonderful with interesting description and development.

1 Comment

I just finished this book and cried through most of it as my husband and his family lived through much of what is described in this story. But I chose to read it in light of its appropriatness for high school students. I felt like there was too much sex in it for me to recommend this book to most high school students.

Comment by Meg Ishikawa

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