The Translation of Love by Lynn Kutsukake is a moving story set in post-war Japan.
13-year-old Aya, one of the the main POV characters, has recently moved from Canada to Japan with her father. After spending years in interment camps and suffering the loss of her mother, her and her father were given a choice; move east and never return to the Pacific coast or return to Japan. While Aya has never been to Japan and can’t even speak Japanese fluently, this is her fathers home country and he chooses to go back.
Fumi is a classmate who is supposed to help Aya adjust but she is devastated by the fact that she has no idea what happened to her sister. Her sister is just gone. Her and Aya eventually become friends and she asks Aya to write a letter to the Americans, who are occupying Japan, and ask for help finding her sister.
A third POV character is Matt, a 2nd generation Japanese American who works as a translator for the American military. He receives Fumi’s letter and, just by chance, becomes involved in helping to find Fumi’s sister.
I honestly loved The Translation of Love; it was super touching, and such an amazingly written picture of what it means to be a good father, a good sister, a good friend, of building family, and of dealing with loss and grief. The characters were imperfect, interesting, and their inner monologues were wonderful and felt real.
Plus, I didn’t know much about post-war Japan aside from basic things such as financial difficulties and illnesses because of the nuclear bomb. I knew more about the experiences of Japanese-Americans and Japanese Canadians who had gone to internment camps and their experiences afterwards. For one, I didn’t realize the extent to which the Americans must have occupied Japan; even if it seems obvious, I didn’t know much about how that might have affected Japan and I enjoyed learning about that through reading an interesting historical fiction novel.
All in all, I really enjoyed The Translation of Love and I would really like to encourage other people to read it too. It’s well worth the read.
Title: The Translation of Love
Author: Lynn Kutsukake
Publication date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Penguin Random House