Adventures in Reading

Color of the Sea by John Hamamura
February 18, 2008, 8:22 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction

I finished reading Hamamura’s Color of the Sea and all I can say is “Wow!”. After completing the first part I became sucked into the story and could not put it down. The remainder of the novel continues to look at Sam as he moves from Hawaii to California only to discover that Yuriko from Hawaii is pregnant and in Japan. Thus, the blossoming romance between Sam and Keiko becomes strained and difficult. Throughout this more romantic side of Sam continues to gain samurai wisdom and the reader begins to pick up the theme on some of the implications of being Japanese-American in the 1940s.

The central part of the novel focuses on Keiko as she returns to Japan so she and her parents can arrange a marriage for her. The reader learns about local customs and holidays, but after the family is under the eye of the Japanese secret police for propaganda that Keiko has been collecting (to send to Sam) they return to America. Sam and Keiko finally seem to have a chance when Pearl Harbor happens and Sam is arrested and Keiko and her family interned in Arkansas.

The final third of the novel is a criss-crossing of events as Sam is given a job to trains translators going to the Pacific. However, he is eventually sent himself and the reader experiences grueling and sympathetic chapters of war that climax in a heart wrenching look at Hiroshima from Ground Zero. The actual war sequence of the novel demands reconsideration of why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and why America bombed Hiroshima.

Wow. Color of the Sea is a superb novel and I am glad I stumbled onto it again and decided to give it a chance. Admittedly, I had passed it over once before. For the One Book community my concerns are still that it will be rejected as a result of the sexual encounters in the novel. Funny enough though, I doubt there will be many complaints on the violence. Hamamura handles the sexuality and violence in Color of the Sea beautifully, but I am nervous that any sex is too much sex. However, I will persevere and will attend the next meeting with Color of the Sea in my hand.

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