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 be able to explain. She stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.
With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's family, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mom scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, Celeste begins to wonder whether she's made a terrible mistake by coming to Japan. Can Celeste find her true self in this strange land, and discover that love can transcend culture?
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 show that play tricks on visitors to their country; Mariko, her want to help Celeste with the Japanese language but also to find her family, she's also going through a hard time her sister is fatally ill; Takuya, is maybe the one person she can open up to, he's supports her emotionally while he deals with his own problems, he needs to break away from his mothers scheming.
It was a warm and light read that brought a smile to my face, and I'll be looking to forward to more of Wendy Tokunaga works.
Love in Translation by Wendy Tokunaga (4.5/5) General Fiction; Published: St. Martin's Griffin (11/09); New Author; Books (27);