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After the Bloom

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  59 reviews
A daughter’s search for her mother reveals her family’s past in a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War.

Lily Takemitsu goes missing from her home in Toronto one luminous summer morning in the mid-1980s. Her daughter, Rita, knows her mother has a history of dissociation and memory problems, which have led her to wander off before. But never has she stayed awa
ebook, 328 pages
Published April 15th 2017 by Dundurn Press
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  188 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Angela M
3.5 stars

Lily is missing . She always seemed a little off kilter to her daughter Rita who believed that it was because of her experience in the internment camp even though Lily never spoke about it. Then we get Lily's narrative and discover her past and wonder what exactly had affected her and caused her to create a different reality, to forget. Perhaps a combination of things - the awful things she experienced at night as a child, a marriage that was not exactly as she hoped it would be and ye
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
What good could come of knowing you’d fallen out of time, your whole life seized away from you?

Toronto, Canada in the 1980s: Three days have passed since anyone has seen Lily. She has always been prone to wandering off, but she usually returns within a few hours. She has never been missing for this long. Her daughter Rita has always resented her eccentric behavior, but Rita would forgive everything if she could just get her mother back. The police say there's no evidence of a crime, so the b
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans
Recommended to Thomas by: NetGalley
This book of historical fiction tells a tale of incredible sadness. Lives were ruined by the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII. The author has two narrators, Rita and her mother Lily. Lily's narrative is told in flashbacks to the internment camp. Lily confronts her past and achieves a measure of redemption. Rita learns about a past that she never knew.
Definitely a 4 star book.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me this book..
BAM Endlessly Booked
Big thanks to Leslie Shimotakahara, Dundurn Publishing, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

Probably more of a strong 3.5 stars likeable characters and believable relationships

Not much attention is paid to the horrific time in history during WWII when the North American governments decided to intern Japanese Americans due to fears of espionage. Shimotakahara found inspiration in her family history to write After the Bloom, a story about a daughter's despondency over
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, own

Leslie Shimotakahara’s debut novel gives the reader an insight to Japanese culture, along with the forceful internment of Japanese Americans across America during WWII, which I was not aware at all.

The narration jumps between Daughter Rita Takemitsu and her Mother Lily, giving a full view on plot, while mother and daughter being ignorant on what actually happened/happening in each other’s life. Lily has wandered off again, like always and no one knows where to find her when she does
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
via my blog
“Everyone, perhaps, had these faint, staticky shadow selves following them around, like degraded clones. Yourself, but not yourself. Things you’d done, but couldn’t believe you’d done, would never acknowledge. Parts of yourself you couldn’t bear to own.”

It is summer in 1980s Toronto when Lily Takemitsu vanishes. Her daughter Rita is familar with her mother’s wanderings but never have her absences lasted this long. When she decides to find out wha
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
After the Bloom is a story about family, history, and love. Readers follow the main character, Rita, as she discovers her parents' past in an interment camp in California. Rita has always been ignorant of her mother's time at the camp. She never pushed or sought out more information. So, when her mother goes missing she's forced to realize that the way her mother acts is a result of what happened to her in the past.

The pace of the first 100 pages is incredible slow. I had a really hard time inv
Moe's Book Blog
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advance-copy
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara is a story about a mother and daughter and the dark history the family struggles to overcome in the search for peace and absolution. Lily Takemitsu, who suffers from a memory and dissociative disorder, wanders away from her Toronto home one day in the mid 1980s. Rita, her daughter, not satisfied with the police's investigation, starts her own investigation into her mother's disappearance. Along the way, she uncovers many secrets about the father she never ...more
Kati Berman
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I got an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The premise of the book, how the Japanese were interned during WWII interested me, as I didn't know too much about this part of American history. I found Lily's story during the war confusing and very hard to follow. Rita's story looking for her mother was somewhat easier to follow, but it still left many questions in my mind. I found the conclusion of the book very strange and the coincidences too unbelievable ...more
I was absolutely in love with this book! I didn't want this book to end. I wanted it to go on forever and ever. I was connected to these characters in a way I've never felt before, and I didn't want to leave them. Great book! I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I won a copy of this book from the publisher Dundurn Press. ...more
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
3.5 stars Well I fairly ripped through this one didn't I? Once I started reading, I just had to find out what happened to Lily, and why Rita's mom disappeared. After the Bloom is part mystery (due to figuring out where Lily disappeared to) and of Rita's coming to terms with the state of her family, the nagging mystery about her father and her mother's lifelong distraction and denial about being interned in California during WWII. A very good read, and one I read in just a few sittings. ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Rita is a Canadian of Japanese ancestry, her parents were interned at a fictionalized camp called Matanzas and now the mother, Lily, is missing. The generation-spanning mystery involves psychology which is vague yet intriguing. In a misery-loving-company sense, I "liked" learning that Canada shares America's guilt in having imprisoned its Japanese citizens also, in reaction to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Along the same lines, it was interesting reading such a negative perception of the role ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback. I've read Farewell to Manzanar before, which is a book that's also about the Japanese internment camps. This plot of these two stories are quite different: Farewell to Manzanar's plot happens in real time whereas After the Bloom takes place years after the camps. However, it is because the story contains so many episodes of flashbacks that make lily's memories and flashback stories difficult to follow. I find myself being confuse ...more
C.R. Elliott
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for great fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
I had a really hard time focusing on this book. I kept thinking I'd skipped something, but upon going back and rereading, I hadn't. ...more
Diane Payne
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
It's not that this novel is good or bad, it's that when I reached the ending, I felt something was missing. The premise of the novel is a daughter searching for her missing elderly mother, and along the way, she meets a professor and gets good sex while on this quest. Readers get a fair amount of info about the mother as a young woman in an interment camp, but we don't get much info about the mother and her daughter at any point in their lives. We know more about the daughter and her professor's ...more
Nancy Mijangos
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very interesting novel. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4 and ½ stars

Rita’s mother, Lily, has gone missing. This is not the first time she has disappeared, but it is the longest she’s been gone. Rita’s brother, Tom, shows up later and gets into the act. Lily’s husband has only been married to her for a year, so he wasn’t aware of the “missing” parts of Lily’s life.

One of the missing parts is a concentration camp during WWII when all of the Japanese people were interned. Lily flatly denies ever having been there.

(As an aside here, the pantyhose desc
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The mark of a good book is that it makes the reader want to learn more. I admit I googled while reading this book to learn more about the Japanese internment. Were we even taught anything about it in school? Granted I rode to school on a dinosaur and I can’t remember a thing, but I’m pretty sure this sad piece of US history was not often discussed.

I wouldn’t say the family in this story is dysfunctional, but they certainly are flawed. Lily, the mom, went through a horrible experience at the inte
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
My mother is 88 years old. When asked about what happened in the 1940s, she is a very unreliable narrative. When she writes out her memoirs, they are not right, out of order, and make no sense. But that is my mother. I have no control over how I write her story, as this is real life.

Lily, the mother in this book, who was interred in a camp set up for people of Japanese decent during WWII tells half of the story of this book, and her daughter tells the other half. The daughter, Rita, is telling t
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from Dundurn Press as an automatically approved NetGalley feed. Sadly, for me a 2.5. Rounding up only because the writing was decent.

I was looking forward to this read but was very disappointed. The blurb was enticing. I have read a few other book on the Japanese internment [most recently the superior Requiem, by Frances Itani, which takes place in camps in Canada; in this book, the camps are in California]. And the extremely compelling Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guters
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many thanks to Dundurn Press for allowing me to read an advanced copy of After the Bloom in exchange for an unbiased review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've read many books from the World War II era, but this is the first about internment camps. I knew these camps existed but hadn't learned much about them or given much thought to what they were like. I appreciated the author's portrayal of life there, especially from the vantage point of a young woman who'd experienced a relatively normal l
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Alternating between the mid 1980's Canada and a Japanese internment camp in the US during World War II, the novel tells the story of Lily and her daughter, Rita. Rita didn't know about her mother's internment, and how the impact of that experience caused much of her mother's disassociation. Lily goes missing, and in the search for her, Rita uncovers both her mother's past and the key to her own u happy upbringing. The Kindle version of this galley was difficult to read, and there were transition ...more
Yuska Vonita
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really love Asian historical fiction with sad ending, and this book fulfills my craving.
The author portrays two different eras seamlessly. This book hit me hard and deep.

I also love how the author crafts her words beautifully. Since I don't mind books with incredible sadness, I would love to read Shimotakahara's book in the future.
Librarian perk - picked up a signed Advance Reading Copy from the Ontario Library Association Super Conference. I have a feeling this might be a good book club pick.
I found this novel a bit hard to follow at times. The novel seemed jumpy and the flow wasn’t consistent for me. I think the subject matter and the story itself was interesting but the way it was delivered, did not work for me.

In the past, Rita’s mother Lily, has disappeared for a few days but eventually she returns to her family and life continues. This time, Lily’s disappearance has Rita concerned. With her elderly mother gone, Rita contacts the police but they believe that Lily will eventuall
Kelsi H
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Please read all of my reviews at!

Rita Takemitsu is a recently divorced mother, living in Toronto in the mid-1980s. Her daughter is spending the summer with her father in Vancouver, and Rita has the summer off from teaching school, so she is free to wallow in the self-pity she is feeling about the direction her life has taken. That is, until she finds out that her mother Lily has gone missing – and the police aren’t taking the case seriously.

Lily has a history o
Dundurn and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of After The Bloom. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

60 year old Lily Takemitsu goes missing from her home in Toronto, leaving her daughter Rita to search for her after the police do not seem to take the disappearance seriously. With a history of memory issues, Rita is worried that her mother is wandering around, lost and confused. Her new husband has no knowledge of any issues, nor does her son
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
When her mother, Lily, disappears, Rita begins to delve into her past and learns that things weren’t as she always thought they were. The story moved slowly and bounced back in forth between Rita in the present and Lily in the past. The shifts between the two weren’t always easily discernible and many times I had to read well into a paragraph to realize which timeline the story was in. On top of that, frequently I felt that I was finally getting somewhere in a timeline and then the narrative wou ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

When Lily Takemitsu goes missing from her home in 1980s, her daughter, Rita, doesn’t think too much of it. Lily has had a problem of disappearing since her internment during World War II 40 years ago. However, when Lily doesn’t show up after a few hours, as she always has in the past, Rita begins to worry. Rita doesn’t get the help she expects from the police, and Rita’s own search leads her to explore the unanswer
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Leslie Shimotakahara's memoir, The Reading List, was winner of the Canada-Japan Literary Prize. Her debut novel, After the Bloom, was published to critical acclaim in 2017, receiving a starred review from Booklist, and her next novel, Red Oblivion, will be released in fall 2019. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. Leslie lives with her partner in Toronto. ...more

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