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During her 14th summer, Sarah Rexford, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an American father, goes with her mother to stay with her mother's family near Kyoto. She begins to notice subtle differences in how various members of the extended family are treated, and her questions lead to the revelation of long-held family secrets. In precise prose, first novelist Waters skillfully examines the power struggles and shifting alliances that define family relationships while also depicting the details of modern Japanese middle-class life. Unfortunately, Waters feels the need to spell out her characters' thoughts and feelings rather than letting the reader glean them from actions and dialog. The big "secret" is revealed very early on, so there is little driving momentum to keep the reader engaged. For those who stick with it, the book does reach an emotionally satisfying conclusion.