Review | After the Bloom, Leslie Shimotakahara

30270312When Lily Takemitsu goes missing from her Toronto home on a summer morning, her daughter Rita searches for her. Rita’s investigation leads to uncovering her family’s past at an internment camp in California during World War II, and the novel switches from Rita’s present-day search to Lily’s life at the camp.

I really thought I’d enjoy this novel more than I did. I’m a sucker for mother-daughter stories, I find stories of dementia and aging to be heart breaking, and the history of Japanese internment camps in America is a subject I think deserves much more airtime than it gets. It’s a dark time in American history and a grave injustice to Americans of Japanese heritage, and I think there is still much more of these stories that need to be told.

Unfortunately, I struggled through this novel, and finally decided to give up on finishing it. The beginning is an interesting enough hook, and the scenes featuring Lily’s life at the camp are the best parts of the novel. The writing was just a bit too wordy and the pacing just a bit too sluggish for me. Rita’s part of the story pales in comparison to Lily’s, and the shifts in time lacked dynamism. There wasn’t much that connected both narratives throughout, and it felt like two separate stories and lacked the urgency of a young woman uncovering the truth about her mother’s life.

After the Bloom explores an important part of history, but I’m afraid I couldn’t get into it.

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Thank you to Dundurn Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.