Dictionary of Mutual Understanding, A

Copleton, Jackie

  22 Reviews

A knock on the door of her Philadelphia home takes widow Amaterasu Takahasi back to Japan 40 years earlier, to Nagasaki and the fateful day pikadon (the great flash) destroyed her family. Believing her daughter and grandson were killed by the atomic blast, she is now faced with a scarred stranger claiming to be her grandson Hideo. But before Ama can accept and embrace the possible existence of family, she is forced to confront the shame and regret of her earlier life, and the horror of August 9th, 1945.

Enhanced by dictionary entries of Japanese culture that head each chapter, this mesmerising and moving story delves into the forces, both personal and societal that shaped the destiny of this family, opening the door to healing. [Larger font]



NAP 024
All enjoyed the book. Learnt a lot about Japanese culture. Much discussion about WWII and why Nagasaki was bombed, and why the parents went to live in America when their daughter was killed and their grandson was missing.
AUCK 456
Everyone in our group loved this book ( a first). Everyone got something different from it, which led to an interesting discussion.
We really enjoyed this book. Not many of us knew much about Nagasaki, and it was interesting to consider it from the perspective of the Japanese. We also enjoyed the love story and narration from all three main characters.
TAUR 059
All agreed this was an easy read, subject matter in certain parts not withstanding. Everyone was impressed with the cultural and historical side of the book and the descriptiveness of the writing. The characters brought varied views to the discussion, most did not really like the protagonists, some not sure if it was just the huge cultural differences that made it hard to relate. Sorrow for Yoko and glad that Hideo had been given a chance. Not all agreed that he was actually her grandson.
We all absolutely LOVED this book. One of our members had lived in Japan for a long time and was able to add lots of cultural understanding that we would have missed or misunderstood. Loving all our choices this year.
TAUR 028
Very popular with members - a good discussion. A touching story of a family, tragedy, loyalty and love, all mixed in with the aftermath of the atomic bomb and its dreadful consequences.
Beautifully crafted. All members rated the book as one of their best reads.
AUCK 135
A very well researched book. Very engaging and interesting the way the story was revealed. It was a horrifying time in history.
We thought the writing was beautiful, the subject intense and important to understand and remember the sheer horror of the effect of the atomic bomb on people. Some people liked the insights into Japanese culture at the start of each chapter, others thought this contrived and artificial - and often only loosely connected to the chapter it was attached to. Nevertheless a good read.
NAP 005
This book was enjoyed by the whole group. As it began towards the end of WW2, the story generated a lot of conversation on the many historical aspects the book brought up. The dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki and the devastating and long-term effect it had on the city and its inhabitants was well depicted through the eyes of Amaterasu and her family. How to continue life with such tragedy We thought the chapter headings introducing Japanese philosophies and beliefs helped the reader to gain some understanding of the Japanese culture. Overall a profound book...
Mixed reactions to this book, most of us found the chapter descriptions unrelated to the story and skipped them, one or two loved them. Very interesting from a historical point of view relating to the dropping of the atom bomb, but we generally found the story to be unnecessarily complicated. It suffered in comparison to our previous book, Requiem, which covered a similar period of history.
CHCH 194
This book was so carefully and effectively crafted to convey a personal story - but also a huge depth of cultural issues and facts about the horrors of war and weapons. Most of us found the definition at the beginning of each chapter, an excellent glimpse into the mood and tone of the chapter to come. The book had been described as a love story - but our group found so much more in it. Our discussion was wide ranging and meaningful.
TAUR 023
This novel created avid discussion on cultural issues and standards.
People enjoyed it. Some found the descriptions at the start of each chapter worthwhile, others didn't.
Most liked the book but with reservations. Some found the ending weak. Some parts of the story were a bit unbelievable. The description of dropping the bomb and after effects was the best part.
AUCK 422
This book generated a spirited discussion. Generally speaking we enjoyed it, though some thought it was a bit 'light' - a love story with a twist. It was interesting the way Jackie Copleton used the bombing of Nagasaki as a focus, and for the way it impacted on the family and their relationships. There was further discussion about the development of the atomic bomb, USA entry into WW2, politics! Not exceptional, but a good read.
PICT 005
Wonderful book, but questions not so helpful.
AUCK 166
Beautifully written, moving story. Horrific - we all learned a lot about the impact of the bombs...Loved the dictionary excerpts at the beginning of each chapter. Generated a lot of discussion around Japanese culture and values. Emotionally engaging. It was noted however that none of our male members (4 of them) read it - did not engage them.
A book that many of us could not put down. Discussion was active and full on. The definitions at the beginning of each chapter were fascinating, giving an insight into Japanese culture.
MAST 008
A good read. Some people felt the plot a bit contrived. It certainly added to our understanding of Nagasaki and the after effects of the bomb. Beautifully descriptive, and most liked the explanation at the beginning of each chapter.
AUCK 143
Most members felt it was a good first book. It was well researched for a non-Japanese author. Most felt Sato was an unprincipled person.
NELS 040
For some this was a favourite, but others found the topic and background interesting but somewhat "light".