Book Reviews

KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home by B. Jeanne Shibahara

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

When Jeanne first reached out to me about reviewing this book, I immediately jumped at the opportunity despite having a giant backlog of review copies to get to. This book, with the “same [length] as Tom Sawyer”, could be squeezed in somewhere, I thought.

And I actually managed to read it! Read on to find out what I thought of it.

Goodreads synopsis:

Kaerou Time to Go Home

In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.

Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.

Review:

KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home is the story of Meryl, a Vietnam War widow, who sets off on a journey to return a WWII Japanese flag to surviving relatives of the fallen soldier it belonged to. Along the way, she meets a string of interesting characters and cultures, learning and developing along the way.

KA-E-RO-U is the kind of book I’d usually complain about. It has insta love (I HATE that trope, okay?), a main character I really didn’t want to root for in any way, and a list of American and British supporting characters who seemed unreal, like they were written for the sake of moving the plot along.

The first 50 pages were difficult to get into because there wasn’t a single character so far who didn’t seem like a “book character”, a character who only exists in books and doesn’t sound real. And then, with the introduction of one Mr. Ono, things picked up. That was when I realised that the author’s–and the book’s by extension–strongest suit was Japanese characters.

The best characters and storylines in this novel were Japanese. It was these characters I eagerly waited for and the short chapters and paragraphs dedicated to them showed how strong Jeanne really is as an author.

One of the best characters in this book was one Ms. Kawanishi. If the entire book had been about her WWII story, it would have been a 5 star read. In one small chapter, this tiny lady managed to capture my heart as she will every reader’s.

KA-E-RO-U is a powerful story about the effects of war and how a beautiful country like Japan dealt with it. It’s also a story about love and loss in the time of war. Despite the lacklustre main characters, this book is totally worth a read for its Japanese cast.

Rating: 3 out of 5

~ Shruti

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6 thoughts on “KA-E-RO-U Time to Go Home by B. Jeanne Shibahara

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