From my earliest days as a reader, I have always admired an author who can truly capture the essence of wide range of characters without appearing to be pretentious. With Snow Falling On Cedars, David Guterson manages to do just that.
Set in a World War II era Pacific Northwest, Gutterson shines a spotlight on the inner lives of the townspeople when they are faced with a violent murder. The past and the present weave together as we come to understand the complex relationships that motivate each individual. Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese American man, stands accused of the murder. His trial brings the war-engendered mistrust of Japanese Americans to the forefront of the town’s consciousness.
Serving as a backdrop to the trial is the story Ishmael Chambers and Hatsu, Miyamoto’s wife. Years before the trial, as children, Ishmael and Hatsu engaged in an adolescent love affair. The onset of the war and cultural differences pulled them apart. As a war torn veteran, Ishmael still remembers his love for Hatsu with a fondness that borders on obsession. She, however, has seemingly moved beyond that point in her life with very little effort.
Snow Falling On Cedars has a hypnotic quality. It’s set in an earlier era of American history, but the characters and concerns are eerily familiar. The townspeople are both alien and familiar. A reader is left with the feeling that they’ve either been or known each and every one of the characters at some point in their life.
A Modern Classic
Guterson’s true genius lies in his ability to blend incredibly vivid landscapes with equally vivid depictions of the humans that inhabit it. Any element of the story could easily have been turned into a cliché. The crisp, complex writing style saves this book from being just another love story or murder plot, and renders it a modern classic.
Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer, model and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing schools.