Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
From his deathbed, 81-year-old Jack O’Brien reveals to his grandson the existence of a long-forgotten story he wrote as a teenager years earlier while living in Japan. The 16-year-old grandson finds the story in an old footlocker in his grandfather’s attic, and spends days pouring over the real-life account. Set at a U.S. military base in rural Japan in 1948, and playing out against a backdrop of swirling post-War social change, Jack’s Voices of the Locusts tells the story of three families—one black, one white, one Asian. The story also recounts Jack’s love for a Japanese girl, Fujiko Kobaysi, who has been promised in marriage by her parents to an older man. Told in vivid and sometimes haunting detail, Jack and Fujiko are frustrated in their romantic quest by story characters coming to terms (often violently) with the emotional scars of World War II.
I wasn’t sure what to think about this book in the beginning. However, as I got into Jack’s story I was drawn in. This is not your common coming of age story. This is a story that takes place after World War II. Imagine being an American and living in Japan with your military father, after the war. Jack is a very studious kid who loves learning about all kinds of new things. He is thrilled to learn so much about Japan. When he meets Fujiko it is love at first sight. He learns about prejudice from all sides. He sees a teacher constantly berating a fellow student because he is the only black student. He finds that a lot of the adults on both sides have very strong opinions. The most important lesson I think he learned is what sacrifice is. He finds it coming from the one place he never expected. This book ended completely different than I thought it would. I read it in about three hours. Once I started it I found I couldn’t stop reading. I had to find out what was going to happen to each of the characters. There is some course language and a rape, so I would not recommend this to anyone under high school age. But I would recommend it. I look forward to finding out what else this author has. The book was well written and the plot flowed smoothly. I am glad I read this book and look forward to telling others about it.