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May 18, 2021

All Sorrows Can Be Borne by Loren Stephens ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


"Ichiro told me our son would be better off living with his sister and her husband in America.  I was too weak to argue with him.  My mother said I had lost my mind to give up my child.  Her judgment was cruel, but I knew she was right."  (p 11)

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All Sorrows Can Be Borne
May 2021; Rare Bird Books; 978-1644281987
audio, ebook, print (360 pages); family saga
All Sorrows Can Be Borne
 is a sad, well-written novel based on real events.  It covers the years from the start of World War II to 1982 in Japan and is told mostly by Noriko.  We see her age from a brave and talented teenager to an older woman with a life full of sorrows who finally finds happiness.

Noriko was a talented and spoiled young girl who planned to be an actress.  Even though she was at school when the bomb was dropped at Hiroshima, none of her family was injured.  Her father spoiled her and paid for extra lessons so that she could achieve her dream.  When she doesn't get accepted into Theater Academy, she has no idea what to do with her life.  She goes to live with her sister in Osaka and takes a job as a waitress at a tea room that her sister owns.  There she meets Ichiro - a quiet and contemplative man who had a rough upbringing but was working to turn his life around.  They fall in love and get married.  She gets pregnant on their honeymoon and right after they return from their honeymoon, Ichiro is diagnosed with tuberculosis.  Their dreams for the future are shattered.  When Ichiro convinces her to send their 3-year-old son to America to be adopted by his sister and their husband, she is totally heartbroken but feels like they have no choice.  Her life is filled with sorrow at the loss of her beloved son.

This story is filled with sadness for Noriko but like many people, she handles life and her marriage as best she can while being consumed with sorrow for her son.  She is much stronger than she believes she is and life keeps presenting her with situations that she has to handle.  She is a well-written character and I could feel her sorrow at the loss of her son and cried with her several times.  Even though parts of the story are sad, the overwhelming feeling at the end is of love and the importance of family.

This book was very interesting for me because I learned a lot about Japanese culture and foods.  This is a book that I'm still thinking about several weeks after I finished it.  It was a wonderful look at the strength of a resilient woman as she dealt with the hardships of her life.


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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