Publisher: Vintage; Contemporary Edition
First Edition: September 26, 1995
Page Number: 460
I don’t even remember when I started reading this. It was probably in 2018. I bought this book because I wanted to see how a romance story would play out. I also read it because I had spoken about the movie adaptation, maybe a little too harshly almost 20 years ago. My biggest complaint was not using Japanese actors and actresses strictly for the Asian cast. Knowing what I now know, I was probably aiming too high. Despite my changed beliefs, the movie did not get as many good reviews as the book. The two things people usually like to read about is love and war. This book is no different, but the thing that made me want to read page after page was David Guterson’s writing style. He is rich in his description, emotions and feelings or lack thereof, and while there may be some repetition of descriptions and mannerisms, it’s there for a reason. There is one particular passage that sticks out to me. It is where Kabuo Miyamoto plays chess with his court appointed lawyer, Nels Gudmundsson, shortly after they meet. This is the hallmark of great writing. So what is this book about? It’s about a newspaper reporter, Ishmael Chambers, never leaving far from his hometown except to fight in the war. He struggles with himself as he did as a child and tries to live his lonely life as best he can when he returns home. He immerses himself in a trial that includes the wife of the accused, a woman from his past, that he can’t seem to get over. As the trial continues through snowstorms and power outages, it comes to an end where half the town seemed eager to convict Kabuo and the other knew he was innocent. It didn’t matter because the jury is the decider. Some readers might get confused on the characters in the first chapter because I think I started it when I was really tired and couldn’t keep them straight. Despite me taking as long as I did to finish it, it reads fairly quickly. One more book done, fifty plus to go.