Sunday, September 11

Book Review: Snow Falling on Cedars

Title: Snow Falling on Cedars

Author: David Guterson

Pages: 460

Summary: San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with murder.

In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries - memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense - but one that leaves us shaken an charged.

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this book, from the very first page to the very last I was absorbed into the book, making it impossible to put down, this is definitely a book that will be on my top ten list of the year.

The style of writing was beautiful, and the descriptions of the island were incredible, during the storm, which created an excellent backdrop and helped create the atmosphere for the trial, you could almost feel the chilled wind blowing through the room. The descriptions were spectacular and really helped move the plot along, and gave you a great picture of the setting and life on the island. The fog scenes were also, well done, they invoked an intense feel to the story.

The story also explored a lot of issues including racism against the Japanese during the end of WWII and shortly after. The author also does a wonderful job at creating his characters and showing their emotions and frustrations with life, each other and how they affect others. I wouldn't say I had a favourite character, but I was almost screaming at some of them to do the right thing, or screaming at them for how they were treating others because of their own personal prejudices. I also wanted to smack the prosecutor - which made for a very engaging book. The book bounces from the present time during the trial and a horrible snow storm to various places in the past. From childhood memories, memories of war, and memories of life in the internment camps. My only complaint of the book was that there was not a clear cut break when the author did this. He managed to make it work, as certain events would help bring up certain memories of the characters, but I would have liked a more concrete break or something to show the different times (past and present) it took a little while to get use to it.

Overall this was a wonderful, engaging read that I would highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It was a beautifully written story, there were times I was completely absorbed by it. At one point my boyfriend came home, and I jumped at the key in the door, because I was wrapped into the story. There are some, horrific descriptions, not a lot, but some that made me shudder and shocked me, but it's such a small amount, I think a lot of readers would enjoy the book.

What to read next: To Kill a Mocking Bird and anything else by the author

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, Take a Chance 3 Challenge

**Banned Book Week: This book has been challenged multiple times in schools due to its sexual content and its portrayal of racism and prejudice against Japanese-Americans. In some cases the book was retained. The book remains on the top 100 banned or challenged books of the past decade (2000 - 2009). Click the image to get to the ALA website. Click here to see what I'm doing for Banned Books Week.**



  1. I have this one on my tbr list. I'm hoping to read it soon.

  2. I haven't read this since I was in High School but I remembering thinking it was a truly lovely story

  3. I read this ages ago! I really must read it again because while I remembered I enjoyed it, I don't really remember what it is about.

  4. Linda - It's so worth bumping it up on the list.

    Becky - It really was, I wish I had read it sooner.

    Kailana - It is a book I would read again - so hopefully you'll get a chance to re-read it soon.

  5. I heard an interview with him a couple of years ago and was really impressed by the way that he spoke about his writing process. (It might have been one of Nancy Pearl's interviews, which took up every spare listening moment for a good chunk of one summer!) I've yet to make it to this one, but you certainly do make it sound unmissable: I'm eyeing my copy from here.

  6. Buried in Print - This book made me want to read mire by the author, that's for sure. Glad you enjoyed the interview, hopefully you enjoyed the book as well.