A beautiful, character-driven tale of mothering and daughtering; that is, the ways in which we mother our children and the ways in which daughters express and manifest themselves as the offspring their mothers. This is a quiet, assuming novel about the ways in which we express parental and filial love, the unspoken reasons why we come to expect love in particular ways.
The plot follows a touristic vacation for the narrator and her mother in Tokyo, Japan. It begins and ends with this short episode in their lives, but the novel reveals their lifetimes of emotional involvement with one another and draws other family members into these reflections. The reader is given a privileged view of this family’s most private interior relationships.
Au’s choice of a touristic holiday is perfect for the discussion of belonging and not, of generational divide and continuity that fills the narrator’s thoughts. A history of immigration, transnational, and transcultural trauma and identity-building is threaded into the fabric of the novel; the events of the mother-daughter duo’s traipses around the Japanese city and its sights are the perfect backdrop to this commentary.
This is book no one could possibly regret reading. If regret is invoked, it is because one missed its slim presence on a shelf.