The Dream of Water: A Memoir

( 2 )


"POETIC . . . REMARKABLY HONEST . . . Mori describes her experiences with an admirable mixture of forthrightness and restraint."
--The Wall Street Journal
In an extraordinary memoir that is both a search for belonging and a search for understanding, Japanese-American author Kyoko Mori travels back to Kobe, Japan, the city of her birth, in an unspoken desire to come to terms with the memory of her mother's suicide and the family she left behind thirteen years before.
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"POETIC . . . REMARKABLY HONEST . . . Mori describes her experiences with an admirable mixture of forthrightness and restraint."
--The Wall Street Journal
In an extraordinary memoir that is both a search for belonging and a search for understanding, Japanese-American author Kyoko Mori travels back to Kobe, Japan, the city of her birth, in an unspoken desire to come to terms with the memory of her mother's suicide and the family she left behind thirteen years before.
Throughout her seven-week trip, Kyoko struggles with her ever-present past and the lasting guilt over her mother's death. Although she meets with beloved cousins and other relatives, she agonizes over the frustrating relationship she barely maintains with her fierce father and selfish stepmother. Searching for answers, Kyoko attempts to find a new understanding of what her father is really like, and how it has affected her own place in two distinct worlds. As her time to leave draws near, Kyoko begins to understand that her family connections may be a powerful cry of the heart, but it is the new world that has given her escape from a lonely past and the power to believe in herself.
--Seattle Times-Post Intelligencer
"ASTONISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL . . . Through the clarity filters the beauty of a large heritage that Mori is by now too American to share, but still Japanese enough to appreciate its redeeming value and to be in some measure restored by it."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
--San Francisco Chronicle
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Twelve years after she fled her home in Japan to study in the United States, Mori, now married and teaching creative writing at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, spends several weeks of her sabbatical revisiting the ``landscapes of my childhood.'' She has been unable to distance herself from the grief over her mother's long-ago suicide and the blame and hatred she feels for her cruel father. In Japan, she looks up old friends and relatives who might have provided more insight into her younger self and the events and characters that haunt her. But these people do little to change her feelings, and depressing visits with her cold father and detested stepmother make forgiveness impossible. But as she waits for her plane back to the U.S., she musters a symbolic gesture to close the book on these destructive relationships by throwing away the offensive parting gift of jewelry from her stepmother that earlier she had politely accepted. This beautifully written, troubling memoir by the author of a well-received first novel (Shizuko's Daughter) only infrequently rises above the private pain it attempts to exorcise. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Mori (Shizuko's Daughter, Holt, 1993), a college professor who now lives in Wisconsin, presents a poignant account of a journey to her Japanese homeland. We see Mori confront the tragedies that shaped her life up to the time she came to America as a teenager-her mother's suicide when Mori was in grade school, her father's indifference and mistreatment of her, and her stepmother's petty and self-serving behavior. Writing sparely, Mori evokes memories of her childhood as well as the landscape of contemporary Japan, offering a piquant juxtaposition of childhood and maturity, rice paddies and neon, patterns of behavior and detached analyses of them. Shining through the author's fears and insights as she encounters her parents and a culture that has now become quite distant are her own redoubtable inner strength and the warmth of her mother's family and her school friends. An affecting work for general readers.-D.E. Perushek, Univ. of Tenn. Libs., Knoxville
School Library Journal
YA-A poignant and honest memoir by a Japanese American woman who returns to her homeland after many years' absense. Mori explores the emotional and spiritual complexities of having severed ties with loved ones, and how a change in time and place recasts, taints, and illuminates one's perception. Central to her personal observations is the author's inability to forgive her father for his emotional and physical abuse after her mother's suicide. This narrative is in part about the young woman's journey but it is also about forgiving and forgetting even though Mori, herself, is unable to do either. Although she is unable to come to terms with her relationship with her father, she arrives at a better understanding of her mother's motivations and decisions that positively affected her daughter's life. Reminscent of David Mura's Turning Japanese (Doubleday, 1992), this title by the author of Shizuko's Daughter (Holt, 1993) will be good reading for YAs interested in Japanese culture, women's studies, and autobiographical writing.-Michele L. Simms-Burton, Department of English, George Washington University, Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449910436
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,500,618
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2001

    So painful because I know how she felt

    When I was reading her book, I had to put the book several times. Sometimes I found myself with tear in my eyes. Because it was so painful to me in her situation. I went to back to my home after seven years living in the States. It was the place where I don't have to ask lots of question for direction and I know the name of buildings without question. same ask Kyo-ko did. I decided escape from Seoul when I was seventeen and I am comfortably living here. Taking a trip to seoul was one trip I tried avoid hard until the time. Being there brought lots of good memories and bad memories, specially my abusive father. There was people who love me a lot and concern about my feeling and they made me feel I returned home. There are lots of similarity between Japanese and korean culture. I felt I was no longer one of them. Because how i dress up and how I respond to others. I was not dressed up as my age and was just wearing my jeans and T-shirt like what I do here all the times. I did not care how people will see me like other Koreas do. When my plane was reaching to San Francisco, I felt I am finally returning to the place where I will live last of my life comfortably. I knew Seoul will be just my hometown where I grew up and I will just be able to visit there for time being only. UNderstanding her too much was very painful but I think there are more than one person who also understand her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

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