Claudia's Reviews > Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
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's review
Sep 28, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Recommended to Claudia by: Caroline!
Recommended for: everyone who loves beautiful writing
Read in September, 2009

This book often took my breath away...with the beauty of the descriptions, and with the horror of what befalls the characters. I can see that this would be a hard book to LOVE. But it will be a book that haunts me for a long time.

The snow on the cedars encloses this small community of San Piedro, in the midst of a ugly murder trial. As the characters wrestle with old prejudices, anders, resentments, the snow quietly isolates them all with their own thoughts and pasts. Ishmael, the wounded WWII vet, home to take over his father's local newspaper is still in love with his high school sweetheart, Hatsue, a Japanese American who was summarily shipped off to Manzanar with her family to live in horse stalls during the war. Hatsue, caving to family pressure, turns from Ishmael and marries Kabuo, who is now on trial for the murder of a fellow fisherman.

The trial, the snow, the isolation, forces every character to look inward for what really Hatsue, it's fairness; to Ishmael, it's love. For Kabou, it's atonement.

I loved the glimpses into the inner life of all the characters, their passions and fears. Guterson allowed us to see them thinking, worrying, wishing.

This is an unflinching look at racial hatred, of old wounds that never heal. The tensions of the residents of this small town who watched neighbors sent away to interment camps, the petty and not so petty conflicts that festered, all become unbearable as the snow falls, and truths must be faced.

I saw many parallels to To Kill a Mockingbird, not the least was the defense lawyer's final speech. He nearly echoed Atticus Finch's words.

I will remember this one for a long time.

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Reading Progress

09/29/2009 page 242
52.61% "Amazing atmosphere -- oppressive facts about our treatment of Japanese American citizens during WWII"

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