With great admiration and many thanks to the author, B. Jeanne Shibahara for a copy of her book, Kaerou – Time to Go Home, in exchange for an honest review.
Meryl is a widow who lost her husband to the Vietnam war. Meryl is in a form of self-imposed limbo – she does not know where she fits in, or where her life is going. Her father now has his own life. Her son, far off in Japan on his own adventure. When Meryl is given a Japanese WWII flag, it doesn’t take much convincing to set her off on a trip to Japan, in hopes of returning the flag to the family of the fallen soldier, and as well, to visit with her son.
Meryl arrives in Japan and learns that her son has gone away with his lady love. Disappointed and at odds with what to do next, Meryl finds herself quickly enveloped in the circle of diverse acquaintances who have grown quite close to her son and know much more about him than Meryl does. Accepting that she cannot sit idle, Meryl gets on with the business of trying to find the family of the flag. Realizing she can’t do this on her own, Meryl accepts the suggestions and help of the group and is introduced to the Japanese culture first-hand.
Moving further through the story, the reader gets to know these unique individuals - we find out how they ended up in Japan and about their struggles and challenges. Together, they form an unlikely camaraderie which they are more than willing to welcome Meryl into. Lovely Meryl, stuck in her loneliness and grief, allows herself to be drawn in by this quirky group. Lonely and lost at the outset of the story, we see growth in Meryl’s character as she comes to understand and embrace that it is time to let go, and live.
Shibahara’s writing is graceful, lyrical – all ease and light, like a paint stroke of words that vibrantly depicts the beauty of Japan, the authenticity of the people and a nation steeped in history.
Kaerou – Time to Go Home is an exceptionally beautiful read. I was easily, and utterly charmed.
I highly recommend reading this lovely novel. Opinions expressed are my own.