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Snow Falling on Cedars: Movie Tie-in Edition

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On San Piedro, an island of rugged, spectacular beauty in Puget Sound, a Japanese-American fisherman stands trial for murder. Set in 1954 in the shadow of World War II, Snow Falling on Cedars is a beautifully crafted courtroom drama, love story, and war novel, illuminating the psychology of a community, the ambiguities of justice, the racism that persists even between neighbors, and the necessity of individual moral action despite the ...

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Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. 1999 Hard Cover First Edition, First Printing NEW CONDITION. NEW DUST JACKET Hardcover Book //NO REMAINDER MARK//NO PREVIOUS OWNER MARKS OF ANY KIND (no ... names or inscriptions, no bookplate, no underlining, etc) //NOT PRICECLIPPED//NEW MYLAR COVER// Read more Show Less

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1ST PRINTING STATED hardcover book FINE/dustjacket FINE brodart cover, SIGNED in PERSON on the FULL title page by author DAVID GUTERSON

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New York, N. Y., U.S. A 1999 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket 1st Printing. 8vo-over 7?-9?" tall. Author's acclaimed first novel: winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and ... basis for the 1999 Scott Hicks film starring Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow, Youki Kudoh and Sam Shepard. {Includes wraparound movie promotional band in new condition: first edition, first printing copy with grey boards with white spine and silver-stamped title; reverse letter line f-e-d-c-b-a on copyright page. ) Mint, unread copy, in as new, mylar-protected dust jacket. L111. Read more Show Less

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Snow Falling on Cedars

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Overview

On San Piedro, an island of rugged, spectacular beauty in Puget Sound, a Japanese-American fisherman stands trial for murder. Set in 1954 in the shadow of World War II, Snow Falling on Cedars is a beautifully crafted courtroom drama, love story, and war novel, illuminating the psychology of a community, the ambiguities of justice, the racism that persists even between neighbors, and the necessity of individual moral action despite the indifference of nature and circumstance.

In 1954 a fisherman from San Piedro Island in Puget Sound is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese-American is charged with his murder. The trial is haunted by memories of what happened to the Japanese residents during World War II when the entire community was sent into exile.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Compelling . . . heart-stopping. Finely wrought, flawlessly written."-the New York Times Book Review "
Luminous . . . a beautifully assured and full-bodied novel [that] becomes a tender examination of fairness and forgiveness . . . Guterson has fashioned something haunting and true."-Time
"Haunting . . . A whodunit complete with courtroom maneuvering and surprising turns of evidence and at the same time a mystery, something altogether richer and deeper."-Los Angeles Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-novelist Guterson presents a multilayered courtroom drama set in the aftermath of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. (Oct.)
Dennis Dodge
A 1954 murder trial in an island community off the coast of Washington state broadens into an exploration of war, race, and the mysteries of human motivation. The dead man, Carl Heine, his accused murderer, Kabuo Miyomoto, and the one-man staff of the local newspaper, Ishmael Chambers, were all scarred by their experiences in World War II but resumed normal-seeming lives upon their return to the fishing and strawberry-farming community of San Piedro in Puget Sound. While fishermen Heine and Miyomoto set about raising families, the newspaperman remains alone and apart, alienated by the loss of an arm and a childhood love, who married Miyomoto. Chambers comes upon information that could alter the verdict of the trial if presented or change his own life if suppressed, creating a private trial as momentous as the public one, with the outcome as much in doubt. Guterson's first novel is compellingly suspenseful on each of its several levels.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151004430
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

David Guterson
David Guterson is a reader’s writer, welcoming his audience into a story from the first sentence. The rich landscapes of the Pacific Northwest are home to many of Guterson’s works of fiction, serving as emotional backdrops for deeply felt stories about the ways we deal with the most universal of questions.

Biography

Like many great writers before him, David Guterson draws on the rich local culture of the Pacific Northwest for inspiration in creating unforgettable characters and settings. Guterson credits many influences on his writing, beginning with his father, Murray Guterson, a distinguished criminal defense lawyer: His father's example taught him first and foremost to choose a career he would love, which also meant making positive contributions to the world.

Guterson was intrigued by the narrative of his father's cases. He often sat in on trials, but never felt the urge to become an attorney. When he started college, after one week in a creative writing class, he decided to become a writer. He eventually studied under Charles Johnson (author of Middle Passage), developing his ideas about the moral function of literature, and concluded that it is the obligation of writers to present moral questions for reflection.

As Guterson honed his writing skills, he investigated a variety of jobs that would afford him the time to practice his craft. He finally chose to become an English teacher, mainly because he wanted to surround himself with great books and authors. He moved to Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, teaching at the local high school, writing short stories, and freelancing as a journalist for Sports Illustrated and Harper's magazine.

During his years as a teacher, Guterson discovered another major influence in To Kill a Mockingbird. "No other book had such an enormous impact [on me]" he has said of Harper Lee's splendid Southern classic. "I read it 20 times in 10 years and it never got old, only richer, deeper and more interesting." He admits freely to borrowing many of the novel's structural and thematic elements for his own 1994 tour de force, Snow Falling on Cedars.

Although it was not his first book (he had previously published a collection of short stories and a treatise on home schooling), there is no denying that Snow Falling on Cedars -- ten years in the making and a true labor of love -- put Guterson on the literary map. Set in 1954 on an island off the coast of Washington State, the novel tells the intertwined stories of an interracial love affair and a murder trial that divides a community still haunted by its shameful wartime past. Critics responded ecstatically, calling it "haunting" (L.A. Times), "compelling...heartstopping" (The N.Y. Times Book Review), and "luminous" (Time magazine). The book went on to win the 1995 Pen/Faulkner Award; and the following year, Guterson was named to Granta's list of Best Young American Novelists.

Far from prolific, Guterson writes slowly and with great deliberation, averaging a book every four to five years. Blessed with almost preternatural descriptive skills, he is known as a writer's writer, polishing sentences to pristine perfection and creating stories of elegiac grace. He is disarmingly candid about the difficulties of his craft, claiming that each literary endeavor brings with it a paralyzing fear of failure that slows the process even further. "It doesn't matter who you are, how many awards you've won, how popular you are, or how much critical acclaim you've had," he has said. "When it comes time to sit down and write the next book, you're deathly afraid that you're not up to the task." Fortunately for his many fans, Guterson's misgivings seem totally unfounded!

Good To Know

When he won the 1995 Pen/Faulkner award for Snow Falling on Cedars, Guterson quickly recognized the reclusive Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird for his success. He wrote to Lee asking her to come to the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., but being a highly private woman, she didn't attend.

Snow Falling on Cedars was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The movie received an Academy Award nomination for cinematography.

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    1. Hometown:
      Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 4, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Education:
      M.A., University of Washington

Read an Excerpt

At the intersection of Center Valley Road and South Beach Drive Ishmael spied, ahead of him in the bend, a car that had failed to negotiate the grade as it coiled around a grove of snow-hung cedars. Ishmael recognized it as the Willys station wagon that belonged to Fujiko and Hisao Imada; in fact, Hisao was working with a shovel at its rear right wheel, which had dropped into the roadside drainage ditch.

Hisao Imada was small enough most of the time, but he looked even smaller bundled up in his winter clothes, his hat pulled low and his scarf across his chin so that only his mouth, nose, and eyes showed. Ishmael knew he would not ask for help, in part because San Piedro people never did, in part because such was his character. Ishmael decided to park at the bottom of the grade beside Gordon Ostrom's mailbox and walk the fifty yards up South Beach Drive, keeping his DeSoto well out of the road while he convinced Hisao Imada to accept a ride from him.

Ishmael had known Hisao a long time. When he was eight years old he'd seen the Japanese man trudging along behind his swaybacked white plow horse: a Japanese man who carried a machete at his belt in order to cut down vine maples. His family lived in two canvas tents while they cleared their newly purchased property. They drew water from a feeder creek and warmed themselves at a slash pile kept burning by his children—girls in rubber boots, including Hatsue—who dragged branches and brought armfuls of brush to it. Hisao was lean and tough and worked methodically, never altering his pace. He wore a shoulder strap T-shirt, and this, coupled with the sharp-honed weapon at his belt, put Ishmael in mind of the pirates he'dread about in illustrated books his father had brought him from the Amity Harbor Public Library. But all of this was more than twenty years ago now, so that as he approached Hisao Imada in the South Beach Drive, Ishmael saw the man in another light: hapless, small in the storm, numb with the cold and ineffective with his shovel while the trees threatened to come down around him.

Ishmael saw something else, too. On the far side of the car, with her own shovel in hand, Hatsue worked without looking up. She was digging through the snow to the black earth of the cedar woods and throwing spadefuls of it underneath the tires.

Fifteen minutes later the three of them walked down the road toward his DeSoto. The Willys station wagon's rear right tire had been perforated by a fallen branch still wedged up under both axles. The rear length of exhaust pipe had been crushed, too. The car wasn't going anywhere—Ishmael could see that—but it took Hisao some time to accept this truth. With his shovel he'd struggled defiantly, as if the tool could indeed change the car's fate. After ten minutes of polite assistance Ishmael wondered aloud if his DeSoto wasn't the answer and persisted in this vein for five minutes more before Hisao yielded to it as an unavoidable evil. He opened his car door, put in his shovel, and came out with a bag of groceries and a gallon of kerosene. Hatsue, for her part, went on with her digging, saying nothing and keeping to the far side of the car, and throwing black earth beneath the tires.

At last her father rounded the Willys and spoke to her once in Japanese. She stopped her work and came into the road then, and Ishmael was granted a good look at her. He had spoken to her only the morning before in the second-floor hallway of the Island County Courthouse, where she'd sat on a bench with her back to an arched window just outside the assessor's office. Her hair had been woven then, as now, into a black knot against the nape of her neck. She'd told him four times to go away.

"Hello, Hatsue," said Ishmael. "I can give you a lift home, if you want."

"My father says he's accepted," Hatsue replied. "He says he's grateful for your help."

She followed her father and Ishmael down the hill, still carrying her shovel, to the DeSoto. When they were well on their way down South Beach Drive, easing through the flats along the salt water, Hisao explained in broken English that his daughter was staying with him during the trial; Ishmael could drop them at his house. Then he described how a branch had hurled down into the road in front of him; to avoid it he'd hit his brake pedal. The Willys had fishtailed while it climbed the snapped branch and nudged down into the drainage ditch.

Only once, driving and listening, nodding politely and inserting small exclamations of interest—"I see, I see, yes, of course, I can understand"—did Ishmael risk looking at Hatsue Miyamoto in the rectangle of his rearview mirror: a risk that filled all of two seconds. He saw then that she was staring out the side window with enormous deliberation, with intense concentration on the world outside his car—she was making it a point to be absorbed by the storm—and that her black hair was wringing wet with snow. Two strands had escaped from their immaculate arrangement and lay pasted against her frozen cheek.

"I know it's caused you trouble," Ishmael said. "But don't you think the snow is beautiful? Isn't it beautiful coming down?"

The boughs in the fir trees hung heavy with it, the fence rails and mailboxes wore mantles of it, the road before him lay filled with it, and there was no sign, anywhere, of people. Hisao Imada agreed that it was so—ah, yes, beautiful, he commented softly—and at the same moment his daughter turned swiftly forward so that her eyes met Ishmael's in the mirror. It was the cryptic look, he recognized, that she'd aimed at him fleetingly on the second floor of the courthouse when he'd tried to speak to her before her husband's trial. Ishmael still could not read what her eyes meant—punishment, sorrow, perhaps buried anger, perhaps all three simultaneously. Perhaps some sort of disappointment.

For the life of him, after all these years, he couldn't read the expression on her face. If Hisao wasn't present, he told himself, he'd ask her flat out what she was trying to say by looking at him with such detached severity and saying nothing at all. What, after all, had he done to her? What had she to be angry about? The anger, he thought, ought to be his own; yet years ago now the anger about her had finished gradually bleeding out of him and had slowly dried up and blown away. Nothing had replaced it, either. He had not found anything to take its place. When he saw her, as he sometimes did, in the aisles of Petersen's Grocery or on the street in Amity Harbor, he turned away from seeing her with just a little less hurry than she turned away from seeing him; they avoided one another rigorously. It had come to him one day three years before how immersed she was in her own existence. She'd knelt in front of Fisk's Hardware Center tying her daughter's shoelaces in bows, her purse on the sidewalk beside her. She hadn't known he was watching. He'd seen her kneeling and working on her daughter's shoes, and it had come to him what her life was. She was a married woman with children. She slept in the same bed every night with Kabuo Miyamoto. He had taught himself to forget as best he could. The only thing left was a vague sense of waiting for Hatsue—a fantasy—to return to him. How, exactly, this might be achieved he could not begin to imagine, but he could not keep himself from feeling that he was waiting and that these years were only an interim between other years he had passed and would pass again with Hatsue.

She spoke now, from the backseat, having turned again to look out the window. "Your newspaper," she said. That was all.

"Yes," answered Ishmael. "I'm listening."

"The trial, Kabuo's trial, is unfair," said Hatsue. "You should talk about that in your newspaper."

"What's unfair?" asked Ishmael. "What exactly is unfair? I'll be happy to write about it if you'll tell me."

She was still staring out the window at the snow with strands of wet hair pasted against her cheek. "It's all unfair," she told him bitterly. "Kabuo didn't kill anyone. It isn't in his heart to kill anyone. They brought in that sergeant to say he's a killer—that was just prejudice. Did you hear the things that man was saying? How Kabuo had it in his heart to kill? How horrible he is, a killer? Put it in your paper, about that man's testimony, how all of it was unfair. How the whole trial is unfair."

"I understand what you mean," answered Ishmael. "But I'm not a legal expert. I don't know if the judge should have suppressed Sergeant Maples's testimony. But I hope the jury comes in with the right verdict. I could write a column about that, maybe. How we all hope the justice system does its job. How we hope for an honest result."

"There shouldn't even be a trial," said Hatsue. "The whole thing is wrong, it's wrong"

"I'm bothered, too, when things are unfair," Ishmael said to her. "But sometimes I wonder if unfairness isn't . . . part of things. I wonder if we should even expect fairness, if we should assume we have some sort of right to it. Or if—"

"I'm not talking about the whole universe," cut in Hatsue. "I'm talking about people—the sheriff, that prosecutor, the judge, you. People who can do things because they run newspapers or arrest people or convict them or decide about their lives. People don't have to be unfair, do they? That isn't just part of things, when people are unfair to somebody."

"No, it isn't," Ishmael replied coldly. "You're right—people don't have to be unfair."

When he let them out beside the Imadas' mailbox he felt that somehow he had gained the upper hand—he had an emotional advantage. He had spoken with her and she had spoken back, wanting something from him. She'd volunteered a desire. The strain between them, the hostility he felt—it was better than nothing, he decided. It was an emotion of some sort they shared. He sat in the DeSoto and watched Hatsue trudge away through the falling snow, carrying her shovel on her shoulder. It occurred to him that her husband was going out of her life in the same way he himself once had. There had been circumstances then and there were circumstances now; there were things beyond anyone's control. Neither he nor Hatsue had wanted the war to come—neither of them had wanted that intrusion. But now her husband was accused of murder, and that changed things between them.


From the Audio CD edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Snow Falling on Cedars opens in the middle of Kabuo Miyamoto's trial. It will be pages before we learn the crime of which he has been accused or the nature of the evidence against him. What effect does the author create by withholding this information and introducing it in the form of flashbacks? Where else in the narrative are critical revelations postponed? How is this novel's past related to its fictional present?

2. The trial functions both as this novel's narrative frame and as its governing metaphor. As we follow it, we are compelled to ask larger questions about the nature of truth, guilt, and responsibility. How does the author interweave these two functions? Which characters are aware that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt?

3. When the trial begins, San Piedro is in the midst of a snowstorm, which continues throughout its course. What role does snow play--both literally and metaphorically--in the book? Pay particular attention to the way in which snow blurs, freezes, isolates, and immobilizes, even as it holds out the promise of an "impossible winter purity" [p. 8]. How does nature shape this novel?

4. Guterson divides his island setting into four zones: the town of Amity Harbor; the sea; the strawberry fields; and the cedar forest. What actions take place in these different zones? Which characters are associated with them? How does the author establish a different mood for each setting?

5. In his first description of Carl Heine [pp. 14-16], Guterson imparts a fair amount of what is seemingly background information: We learn about his mother's sale of the family strawberry farm; about Carl's naval service in World War II; andabout his reticence. We learn that Carl is considered "a good man." How do these facts become crucial later on, as mechanisms of plot, as revelations of the dead man's character, and as clues to San Piedro's collective mores? Where else does the author impart critical information in a casual manner, often "camouflaging" it amid material that will turn out to have no further significance? What does this method suggest about the novel's sense of the meaningful--about the value it assigns to things that might be considered random or irrelevant?

6. When Carl's body is dredged from the water, the sheriff has to remind himself that what he is seeing is a human being. While performing the autopsy, however, Horace Whaley forces himself to think of Carl as "the deceased... a bag of guts, a sack of parts" [p. 54]. Where else in Snow Falling on Cedars are people depersonalized--detached from their identities--either deliberately or inadvertently? What role does depersonalization play within the novel's larger scheme?

7. What material evidence does the prosecution produce in arguing Kabuo's guilt? Did these bits of information immediately provoke the investigators' suspicions, or only reinforce their preexisting misgivings about Carl's death? Why might they have been so quick to attribute Carl's death to foul play? How does the entire notion of a murder trial--in which facts are interpreted differently by opposing attorneys--fit into this book's thematic structure?

8. Ishmael suffers from feelings of ambivalence about his home and a cold-blooded detachment from his neighbors. Are we meant to attribute these to the loss of his arm or to other events in his past? How is Ishmael's sense of estrangement mirrored in Hatsue, who as a teenager rebels against her mother's values and at one point declares, "I don't want to be Japanese" [p. 201]? To what extent do Kabuo and Carl suffer from similar feelings? How does this condition of transcendental homelessness serve both to unite and to isolate the novel's characters?

9. What significance do you ascribe to Ishmael's name? What does Guterson's protagonist have in common with the narrator of Moby-Dick, another story of the sea?

10. What role has the San Piedro Review played in the life and times of its community? How has Ishmael's stewardship of the paper differed from his father's? In what ways does he resemble his father--of whom his widow says, "He loved humankind dearly and with all his heart, but he disliked most human beings" [p. 36]? What actions of Ishmael's may be said to parallel the older man's?

11. Ishmael's experience in World War II has cost him an arm. In that same war Horace Whaley, the county coroner, lost his sense of effectiveness, when so many of the men he was supposed to care for died. How has the war affected other characters in this book, both those who served and those who stayed home?

12. Guterson tells us that "on San Piedro the silent-toiling, autonomous gill-netter became the collective image of the good man" [p. 38]. Thus, Carl's death comes to signify the death of the island's ideal citizen: he represents a delayed casualty of the war in which so many other fine young men were killed. Yet how productive does the ideal of silent individualism turn out to be? To what extent is Carl a casualty of his self-sufficiency? What other characters in this novel adhere to a code of solitude?

13. Kabuo and Hatsue also possess--and are at times driven by--certain values. As a young girl, Hatsue is taught the importance of cultivating stillness and composure in order "to seek union with the Greater Life" [p. 83]. Kabuo's father imparts to him the martial codes of his ancestors. How do these values determine their behavior, and particularly their responses to internment, war, and imprisonment? How do they clash with the values of the Anglo community, even as they sometimes resemble them?

14. Racism is a persistent theme in this novel. It is responsible for the internment of Kabuo, Hatsue, and their families, for Kabuo's loss of his land, and perhaps for his indictment for murder. In what ways do the book's Japanese characters respond to the hostility of their white neighbors? How does bigotry manifest itself in the thoughts and behavior of characters like Etta Heine--whose racism is keenly ironic in view of her German origins--Art Moran, and Ishmael himself? Are we meant to see these characters as typical of their place and time?

15. Although almost all the novel's white characters are guilty of racism, only one of them--Etta Heine--emerges unsympathetically. How do her values and motives differ from those of other San Piedrans? How is her hostility to the Japanese related to her distaste for farming? To what extent are Guterson's characters defined by their feelings for their natural environment?

16. Ishmael's adolescent romance with Hatsue has been the defining fact of his life, its loss even more wounding than the loss of his arm. Yet when Hatsue first remembers Ishmael, it is only as a "boy" [p. 86] and her recollection of their first kiss is immediately supplanted by the memory of her wedding night with Kabuo. How else does Guterson contrast Hatsue's feelings for these two men? (Note that Hatsue's feelings for both Ishmael and her husband become clear in the course of making love.) What does the disparity between Hatsue's memories and Ishmael's suggest about the nature of love? Where else in this novel do different characters perceive the same events in radically different ways--and with what consequences?

17. In choosing Kabuo, Hatsue acknowledges "the truth of her private nature" [p. 89]. That choice implies a paradox. For, if Kabuo is a fellow nisei, he is also rooted in the American earth of San Piedro's strawberry fields. How is this doubleness--between Japanese and American--expressed elsewhere in Snow Falling on Cedars?

18. Ishmael's attraction to Hatsue is closely connected to a yearning for transcendence, as indicated by their early conversation about the ocean. Ishmael says, "It goes forever, " while Hatsue insists, "It ends somewhere" [p. 97]. Typically, it is Ishmael who wishes to dissolve boundaries, Hatsue who keeps reasserting them, as when she gently withholds the embrace that Ishmael so desperately wants. What limits might Ishmael wish to transcend, even as a boy? Does he ever manage to do so? Does Snow Falling on Cedars hold the promise of transcendence for its characters or at best offer them a reconciliation with their limits?

19. One way that Guterson interweaves his novel's multiple narrative strands is through the use of parallelism: Ishmael spies on Hatsue; so does Kabuo. The two men are similarly haunted by memories of the war. Both Kabuo and Carl Heine turn out to be dissatisfied fishermen who yearn to return to farming. Where else in this novel does the author employ this method, and to what effect?

20. What is the significance of the novel's last sentence: "Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart"?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 209 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    beautifully atmospheric...

    Snow Falling on Cedars is a beautifully atmospheric love story/murder mystery. It takes place on San Piedro Island off the Pacific Coast. The story alternates from the trial of a Japanese American on trial for murder in 1954 to the background stories of the relevant characters leading up to WWII and after. Snow Falling on Cedars brings up questions of loyalty, racism and forgiveness. The mood of the novel matches it's scenery, dark and stormy. The love stories are passionate and emotional. The writing is beautifully descriptive. David Guterson brings the island of San Piedro and it's inhabitants vividly to life in a novel I'll not soon forget.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    A great lesson in American racial intolerance wrapped in a love story that is ageless.

    For those born after WWII this book explores the Japanese experience of the camps. I would recommend this book to young adults and high school students. It is well written and a pleasure to read.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Recommended

    A good book that starts slow but has deliberate plot and character development. Great care is taken to give extensive background and setting to a decent story. Issues of lost love, racism, fear and intolerance are at the forefront with an ending that is satisfying, if not surprising. A good read.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Achievement

    A historical tragedy is the backdrop of this murder mystrey involving a Japanese man and a fisherman in Washington. An entire cast of characters are created and they all have depth to them. The scenes of war are descriptive and not over the top violent.
    The pacing of the story is in particular what makes this novel so memorable; the book keeps you completly intune with the mystrey of a man's death while you're introduced to the towns people.

    The great fault of the book is it's too long. Where was the editor? The scenary descriptions were beautiful and the subtle metaphors are appreciated but the book tries the patience of the reader. Although beautiful, there are certain spots where it is okay to skim.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Snow Falling On Cedars - A Review

    It is impossible to deduce, by reading this book, that this could be author David Guterson's first attempt at fiction. His writing is fluid, his descriptions of the scenery surrounding the characters in the story transport you into the world of the characters, and his characterization is absolutely on-point.

    The book is narrated by Ishmael Chambers, who is a reporter from the only newspaper of the San Piedro Island, and it begins in a courtroom. The reader bears witness to the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, who is on trial for the murder of a local fisherman. The attendees of the trial, the local towns people, are either strawberry farmers, of local fisherman. Weaving in and out of the mystery of Kabuo's trial, is the story of Hatsue, who is now Kabuo's wife, and Ishmael, who was once in love with Hatsue.

    We and transported back to the days of World War II via the memories of Ishmael, and this is where the story truly unfolds. We learn of racism, prejudice, love and two young hearts torn asunder by the norms of the world. It is Guterson's meticulous and extremely detailed description of the dynamics between these characters that truly make this novel such a marvel to read. This novel was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and engrossing novels I have ever read in my life. I would highly recommend it to history lovers, and mystery lovers as well, and those who appreciate romance of the real and pragmatic kind.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    Recommend.

    This is a good book. Great for history buffs. Suspense til the last page.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Extremely thematic, it is a story that can suit anyone. Finely w

    Extremely thematic, it is a story that can suit anyone. Finely written; poetic, and wrought with tragedy, the book does a good job of keeping the reader thinking and feeling. It teaches you about love, loss, and injustice--and at the same time, it reminds us all that even though bad things happen, humans can control what they make of a situation, and it is the "chambers of the human heart" that make up the rest of the world created by circumstance.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting history

    This book was written very well. It is about Piedro Island off Pugent Sound in the 50s. It is the first island murder trial in 28 years. It has the history of the Japanese internment during WWII and details of the islanders and their habits, a interracial love story and drama.

    It wasn't a book that I couldn't put down, but enjoyed learning the history of the islanders and Japanese immigrants.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Great story

    I've had this book for a long time. Had I known how good it was I would have read it a long time ago. It has everything I enjoy in a good book: history, mystery, romance, and characters you care about. As others said some descriptions were a bit lengthy. But I didn't mind. I could just smell the cedars and the strawberry fields!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    There are a couple of main characters in the book. One character

    There are a couple of main characters in the book. One character is Kabuo, who is on trial for the murder of Carl Heine, another character is Carl who only appears in flashbacks from the moments when he was alive, Ishmael who is Hatsue’s, Kabuo’s present wife, young non- Jap lover. All of the characters are unique and different in their own way. Kabuo feels a lot of guilt throughout the story for killing Germans in the war. I find it amazing how Kabuo accepts his trial and death sentence as fairness for the murders he committed while in the war. He stands for what he believes in. Though Carl is dead for most of the book, he still has a major role in the story. You get to learn a little about Carl and his past. Hatsue seems to be torn between loving a white man or a Japanese man. She knows that she can never love Ishmael no matter how much she wants to. Ishmael has an interesting past after being rejected by Hatsue and being in World War 2. He seems to just sulk around the island after losing an arm in battle and being rejected by the one he loves. The main conflict in this book is external. It is all about the trial for Carl’s death. One example to the rising action is when Art found a fishing gaff with blood on it. When he got it tested, he found out that it was Carl’s blood. At this point all of the facts are showing that Kabuo is guilty but then he tells his own side of the story. He said that Carl cut his palm and that is how the blood got onto the gaff. Now we don’t know what to believe. Did Kabuo kill Carl?
    I liked this book for many reasons. One reason was the detail in the authors writing. The author made every little detail noticeable which made the story very vivid. In the quote, “San Piedro had too a brand of verdant beauty that inclined its residents toward the poetical. Enormous hills, soft green with cedars, rose and fell in every direction”, you can just imagine that sight in your head with the descriptive words that he used. What I disliked about the book was how it started out pretty slow. All main action happened a little later in the book around chapter 17. Lastly, what I also liked about the book was that it was interesting. There was always something would keep you interested like how Ishmael and Hatsue kept their love for each other a secret for so long. There will constantly be something there to pull you in. I would recommend this book because it’s not an ordinary story. There’s an interesting plot, conflict, and overall it is a really good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    a simple masterpiece

    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is a beautiful, compelling story published in September of 1994 by Knopt Publishing. Although this novel is portrayed as a mystery or a suspense thriller, its true beauty lies with the emotions of the characters and the relationships they share. This novel takes place on a small, quiet island located in Puget Sound. It is set during and after the second World War. The narrator of the story is a local newspaper publisher, Ishmael Chambers. Most of the character's features and colors are depicted by Chambers's flashbacks of life in the neighborhood before and after the second World War as well as life before the murder trial began. This forms a love story, a war tale, and a mystery as well. When a local fisherman is found suspiciously dead one morning in his fishing nets, a Japanese man named Kabuo Miyamoto is arrested on account of first degree murder. This brings up many issues with the islanders and is a test of true human faith, compassion, and forgiveness.
    I would highly recommend this novel to any reader in search of a novel with deeper meaning under the surface. To read this novel to its highest worth the reader must be in search of much more than if Kabuo Miyamoto is guilty or innocent. Reluctant readers would more than likely become bored with this read and readers under sixteen might not grasp the novel's true meaning. I would say this novel compares most to Tim O'Brien's novel In the Lake of the Woods simply because both novels are constructed of out of order flashbacks that all come back to the present in the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    My favorite Novel

    I read this for school originally, and it's become my favorite novel. I read it at least once a year!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    Didn't finish it

    Reading is my passion as a pastime. I couldn't get through this book! I started and stopped many times and then just gave it away. I didn't care about the charachters and I didn't think the plot kept my attention. Maybe that would have changed if I continued reading, but If a book doesn't grab me by 1/4 of the way into it, I let it go.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    Good in some parts...

    I read this novel in high school and although it was more interesting than most of the novels we read, I was not pleased with all of the sexual innuendos and don't think that this is necessary in books to be read and analyzed in school.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    Went 'overboard' with description, but overall a good book

    Geez, I felt like I completely skimmed through parts of this book but was still right where I left off. You just want to yell at certain times...'WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?' The author really gets carried away with description all over the place. But in the end the plot is incredibly strong and believable. Characters are lovable and relatable which is huge. Overall worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2014

    Lish

    I read this book a few years ago and absolutely loved it! Give it 6 stars!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    RACES

    :3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Game ideas

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    thought provoking story

    This is a good book; I enjoyed it very much

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    EXCELLENT!

    Enjoyable book - makes you look into. your heart against preconceived prejudices we all inevitably hold within.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 209 Customer Reviews

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