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Love in Translation

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Stuck. That's how 33-year-old aspiring singer Celeste Duncan feels, with her deadbeat boyfriend and static career. But then Celeste receives a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms which just might be the first real clue to the identity of the father she never knew. Impulsively, Celeste flies to Japan to search for a long-lost relative who could ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin
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(showing 1-30 of 537)
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Dec 30, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful story about the search for a family, which also happens to be chock full of fascinating information about Japanese culture. The romance though was only ho-hum, a nice slow burn to start but then it jumped a little to quickly.
Jan 12, 2016 Perri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It was a fun and light-hearted read for downtime, and it thoroughly interested me. Love In Translation is about a thirty-something American woman who, after getting a strange phone call, sets out to find her roots and possibly her family- in Japan, of all places.

Celeste was a funny, utterly relatable character. Her quest for love and family is something I think everyone can relate to (orphan or no), and the contrast between her and the Japanese was so well done. To be honest,
Mar 17, 2010 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I started reading, Love in Translation, right after I had finished, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. It seemed like an appropriate segue since in the previous book I learned so much about Japanese families and their culture. The author, Wendy Tokunaga, sent me a copy to read. Not really knowing what to expect – I did do my research though on the book – I found I truly enjoyed the storyline, the characters, particularly Celeste’s journey, the mystery surrounding the search
I have never liked it when the heroine travels to a completely new country where she tries to adjust to the way of life there. But because the country this heroine travels to is Japan, and that Nippon wa daisuki!!! , I kinda enjoyed this book. Hehe. It is interesting to see how gaijins (foreigners) are looked upon in Japan.

Somehow, Celeste grows onto me. At the beginning, she was a weak character but slowly she does grow up a little. It is tenderly sweet to see her and Takuya interacting with o
Jan 04, 2010 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly speaking, I could not remember when was the last time I had read a women's fiction and felt so madly in love with it. Yes, that was how I felt when reading Love in Translation by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, a new-to-me author but has now joined the rank of my favourite authors.

33-year-old Celeste Duncan feels her life is a blah. Her mother passed away when she was younger, and she did not know who her father was. She does not feel motivated about her editor career, and she feels her relatio
Dec 15, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jean
I couldn't put Love in Translation down--except when I found myself laughing out loud so much that my family started giving me strange looks.

The plot revolves around Californian Celeste Duncan and her search for her last remaining family members--in Japan of all places--and clues as to the identity of her father. Celeste has an aunt by marriage who was Japanese, but hasn't seen her since she was still in grade school. When she receives a call to inform her that this aunt has passed away, Celest
Feb 16, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a really good book, up until a certain point (I won't spoil it for others). Then, after that certain point, the book just seemed to speed up, with everything happening at once, and no time for us to process all of it. The content of the book was really well-done though, I really enjoyed hearing about Japan, and reading about Celeste and Takuya. I felt that there were certain people whom didn't need to be talked about, which sort of brought the reader away from the main storyline, which wa ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Leya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
This book is one of those rare books (lately) that I was instantly hooked from page one. I think it was a combination of the way it was written, the story itself and these amazing characters.

Celeste is on a journey to find herself, and maybe the possibility to find a long lost family member. Along the way she meets wonderful people: Mrs Kubota, her housemother, her want and her need to learn English, her pride in her son, the shame of her husband's hobby, and her fascination with a television s
Mar 21, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Celeste is an American 30-something at somewhat of a crossroads in life, determined to find her place in the world. At exactly the moment when she needs it, a package arrives from a long lost relative that takes her from America to Tokyo to discover the Japanese roots she didn't know she had.

Little does Celeste know this journey is also about finding the life she wants and the love she needs. I felt she was a wonderfully drawn character, and you definitely root for her, even if at times you wan
Diane Nagatomo
Nov 09, 2011 Diane Nagatomo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. Some things the author got entirely right--like how annoying Japanese television can be. Reading about Celeste's bumbling cultural mistakes were like a trip down memory lane-- every single foreigner in Japan can probably relate to the mortifying experience of wearing the toilet slippers into the living room. I also liked how Celeste bonded with her home stay mother--even though the mother was clearly an oddball (but quite endearing).

My only complaint is that somehow I f
A family member recommended I pick this up for a quick but cute read. It was a quick read and though I was excited to find something pertaining to life in Japan, it was disappointingly flat and boring.

As an American living in Japan myself, I found the references no more insightful than a Wikipedia article. I expected more of a personal glimpse but was left only with a brief and dull taste of what I know is a richly beautiful and interesting culture.

Tokunaga's writing style didn't jump out at me
Jan 03, 2014 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
PatriciaV Davis
Feb 20, 2010 PatriciaV Davis rated it it was amazing
As much as I loved the novel, Midori by Moonlight which preceded this one, Love in Translation was even better. Ms. Tokunaga takes some of the same themes - cross-cultural romantic relationships and misunderstandings, a likeable, believable 'maiden in distress', a Japanese backdrop - and develops them much more. The descriptions of Japan and its people were vividly and objectively described, and all the characters,even the lesser ones, were complex and well-developed. Yet, the writing style appe ...more
Pretty good; better written than this author's other book Midori by Moonlight. Nevertheless, compared to Malena Watrous' novel "If You Follow Me" or Sara Becker's "American Fuji", there was something missing in the dialogue exchanges. Some pizazz, or that extra sprinkle of liveliness. Maybe the broken Engrish of the characters didn't sound engrishy felt like it could have been any Asian ethnicity, rather specifically Japanese. Additionally, the ending wrapped up so completely, that i ...more
Dec 24, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Celeste, a young woman determined to find her place in life (and the world), is a wonderfully drawn character. Her journey to discover her roots takes her from San Jose to Japan and treats us to a wonderful story filled with a bit of mystery, a bit of family-tree sleuthing, and a great deal of heart.

Wendy Tokunaga’s descriptions of Japanese culture are vivid and enormously enjoyable. I was swept away and embraced by a culture that, before reading this book, I knew very little about.

Twists and s
Jan 13, 2010 Sierra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Very interesting and enjoyable book. Celeste Duncan is an compelling and likable character. Her going to Japan was a great adventure and I felt like I was a part of it. I was transported to Japan every time I opened the book. I loved the little Japanese words and factoids. There were plenty of funny moments with the culture differences and language barriers. I don't recall anything I didn't like about the book. A very pleasant character-driven story that transports you to another country. It's a ...more
Oh my god, I could not stop reading this book, I read it in just two days.

It's a love story, of course, but it also taught me many things about Japan, things I remember from taking a Japanese course a few years ago, and things that I have already talked about with my Japanese penpal.

Oh well, and the story is kind of cute. Especially since the main character's father turns to have a huge obsession with the Beatles. Hee, I can so relate. :)

Definitely recommended!! I can't believe I already finish
Malena Watrous
Jan 11, 2010 Malena Watrous rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My disclaimer (for the sake of reviewing integrity) is that I got to work with the author over two summers as she wrote her MFA thesis. But I say "work with" and not "teach," because Wendy was already a writer, and I was mostly a reader for her, and a lucky one at that. Celeste is a terrific character and I loved watching her discover her roots in Japan, a country that is dear to me and that Tokunaga never fails to bring to full and crazy life on the page. I am so excited to see this book out in ...more
Gabriela Lessa
Jan 10, 2011 Gabriela Lessa rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Tokunaga manages to balance it all so well: the discovery of a new world, the culture clash and funny anecdotes that come out of it, the exotic friend, the search for her family, the development of her singing and the discovery of love. It sounds like a lot to have in just one book, but Tokunaga manages to connect it all so well that it made me feel like there was not one tiny piece that could've been chopped off. Really a wonderful story and an inspiration for other multi-cultural rom ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Cris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful journey in rediscovering roots and inner self.
May 31, 2010 Elvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book interesting because it is about an American in Japan. I love learning about other cultures. I found an American living in Japan an interesting story. I did find it entertaining and it kept me rapt as the plot unwound. It was about a young American woman who goes to Japan to find some family. And she ends up finding a lot more. I like the way the author tries to describe the Japanese culture through American eyes.
The Styling Librarian
Love in Translation by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga – Realistic Fiction, Adult – I randomly picked this book up and read it in half a day. Haven’t read a ‘brain candy” adult book in quite a while. It was a tood story about a woman who drops everything to move to Japan and try to solve her missing father and aunt mystery. I enjoyed reading about her experiences trying to adapt to a new culture and community.
Mar 15, 2012 Peebee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a friend of a friend who I met a couple of times when I lived in San Francisco, so I was looking forward to reading this. I was quite impressed, both with her crafting of the story, and the deft way in which she incorporated Japanese culture. I subtracted one star for the ending, which I thought was a little predictable and treacly. But all in all, an enjoying read.
Catherine  Mustread
Mar 16, 2010 Catherine Mustread rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Wendy
Shelves: japan, wendy
Good story of finding love and family in an unexpected place -- Japan -- where Celeste goes on a whim, after receiving a box of mysterious family heirlooms. Bit too chicklit-ish for my taste, but a quick, humorous and entertaining read with a healthy and insightful dose of life for a 30ish American woman in Japan and her immersion in Japanese culture.
Jul 24, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A trip to Tokyo and a well written story - what more could I ask for? I loved feeling like I was in Japan while I was reading this book. The author is obviously very familiar with Tokyo and Japanese culture and this comes through in her characterization and description. A great read I recommend to anyone who loves travel mixed in with their women's fiction.
Jan 13, 2010 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Wendy Tokunaga's second novel, Love in Translation, American Celeste Duncan, a thirtysomething aspiring musician who was brought up in foster homes, goes to Japan, Land of Hello Kitty, to find out the truth out her father. Tokunaga strikes just the right balance between serious and screwball in this coming-of-age story for adults. Her best work yet.

Aug 27, 2013 Nova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It is the story about a woman who is on a journey to find her father, and how she actually finds herself. It is a wonderful read. I liked reading Celeste's story and seeing her go from her relationship in America to a whole new beginning in Japan. How she found herself along with a father she never knew.
Yun Zhen
Sep 04, 2012 Yun Zhen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-stories
Quite a nice book that you can progress through at a nice readable pace. And occasionally quite intriguing as it displays the differences between Western and Japanese cultures, with a bit of quirky Japan more than the conventional Japan.
Apr 14, 2011 Lissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads, read-2010
Won novel from goodreads giveways

Wendy Tokunaga is a marvelous writer. I have nothing wrong to say about this novel.I finished this novel in a day and a half.

Enchanting story full of hope, wonder, and culture.

Jan 01, 2012 Jespera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011, japan
This is about a woman who inherits some artifacts from a long lost aunt and decides to return them to the autnt's sister to see if she can learn more about who her father is. She winds up finding love and family.
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