The Translation of Love is one of these novels that one is transfixed to the page until one is finished reading the book. So, don’t start reading it unless you can devote a lot of time to reading it. You won’t be satisfied until you know what happens.
The Translation of Love shows us post-war Japan from the point of view of two thirteen-year-old girls. Aya is of Japanese descent, had lived in Canada and suffered the loss of everything they owned when they were forced into “detention centers” for the duration of World War II. I found these scenes so sad and I could imagine how a 13 year girl would view this.
After the war, they were sadly not allowed to return but were given the option of either returning to Japan or moving beyond the Rockies. The brutal wartime experience convinced Aya’s father that they would never be at home and fully safe in Canada or the US, so he chose to return to Japan.
But since they lost their property and livelihood, Aya’s father has had to rely on the generosity of relatives. Their relatives and neighbors don’t understand why Aya’s family left the wealthy West and there is resentment for their “good fortune”. It was great to see so many people coming to the aid of the family.
Aya has troublel in her local Japanese elementary school. Not knowing Japanese is the least of her problems, her schoolmates resent her presence and consider her a foreigner. Her “guide” Fumi is one of her main tormentors.
Fumi’s always starving and their meager supplies are supplemented by the “gifts” that the American soldiers hand out. But there’s never enough and it takes careful maneuvering to get to the front of the line early enough to pick up an egg or bread or any kind of food.
I loved the story from beginning to end, and I will definitely try to reread the story in a few years. It is one of the best stories that I read this year. But I still have another few months before the end of the year…
Rating: 5 stars