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January 12, 2020

Ka-e-ro-u: Time to Go Home by B. Jeanne Shibahara ~ a Review

by MK French

Meryl's grown son has left the home, and her father recently remarried. She has been widowed since the Vietnam War, and it's her cousin's push to get her to return a WWII Japanese flag to its home. Meryl travels throughout Japan for this task, meeting British and US ex-pats, and people of all kinds of professions. It takes her throughout Japan's history.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

October 2018; 978-1719859264
ebook, print (286 pages); women's fiction
Meryl's entire life had revolved around her son Byron and her father, caring for them and isolating herself from the outside world after her husband's death in Vietnam. Her son managed to go to Japan after college, and Meryl still remained alone. There seemed to be a lot of unnecessary drama regarding who Byron was going to marry and Meryl's anxiety over her own life. The romance felt flat and forced to me, and I would have been happier if the novel was presented more like an introspective travelogue since that's what we have.

The novel has a lot of exposition in the beginning, getting into the character's entire histories for a chapter before we get to the actual meeting to discuss the bloodstained flag that Meryl was asked to return. Even later, we learn about the characters, the different cities in Japan, and the internal drives of the characters. It's not a story that relies on action to drive it forward, but it more about discovering things about each of the characters. There are also multiple conversations about the intricacies in the Japanese language and culture from the WWII era, as well as the 1990's when this novel takes place. I very much enjoyed that aspect of it, though it gives a heavier feel to the novel and more of a disconnect with the characters. I don't feel any emotional connection to Meryl or her isolation, or to the teachers that her son Byron used to work with.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.

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