cover image Stone Field, True Arrow

Stone Field, True Arrow

Kyoko Mori. Henry Holt & Company, $24 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-4080-7

Simple language and strong emotion are effectively used to relate the story of Maya Ishida, a 35-year-old Japanese-American woman who must confront her painful past in order to re-evaluate her safe but soul-crushing present. Maya works as an artisan, weaving cloth and making clothes. She's married to high school English teacher Jeff and they live placidly in Wisconsin, near her childhood friend, Yuko. When Maya is informed that her father, whom she hasn't seen for 25 years, has died in Osaka, it is the enclosed drawing that jars her memory: her artist father drew a picture of the day 10-year-old Maya left Japan to move to Minneapolis with her mother, Kay, who had abandoned her husband and Maya three years earlier. Maya attempts to understand why, after she moved to the States, she never heard from her father again; why the letters she wrote him were returned unopened; why he allowed her to be raised by cruel, selfish Kay, who has tried to erase every trace of her Japanese origins and encourages her daughter to do the same. In the process, Maya comes to terms with her passionless marriage, learning to cope with the fear of being alone and falling in love for the first time. This first foray into adult fiction by YA author and memoirist Mori (Shizuko's Daughter; The Dream of Water) is graceful in its simplicity of language and in the subtle way in which Eastern and Western folk tales are interlaced with the plot line. The pace of the book is perhaps too leisurely, maintaining a calm, unruffled tone even at the emotional apex, but despite the mannered structure, Maya's cultural identity and family history are lucidly invoked, and her struggle emerges as a universal one. 5-city author tour. (Sept.)