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Tonoharu: Part Two

Overview

As the months go by, Dan Wells settles into his life as an assistant junior high school teacher in the rural Japanese village of Tonoharu. Isolated from those around him by language and cultural barriers, he leads a solitary existence, until the day an unrequited crush extends him a dinner invitation. What follows shakes up Dan's quiet life and expands his social circle into unexpected quarters. But do these new associates exert an influence that is beneficial, or detrimental? ...
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Overview

As the months go by, Dan Wells settles into his life as an assistant junior high school teacher in the rural Japanese village of Tonoharu. Isolated from those around him by language and cultural barriers, he leads a solitary existence, until the day an unrequited crush extends him a dinner invitation. What follows shakes up Dan's quiet life and expands his social circle into unexpected quarters. But do these new associates exert an influence that is beneficial, or detrimental?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The second volume of Martinson’s semiautobiographical look at an American English teacher adjusting to life in rural Japan finds his protagonist Dan Wells trying to break out of his social isolation, and forming some relationships that aren’t particularly good for him: a crush on one expatriate (she’s not interested in him), an uneasy friendship with another one (he’s kind of sleazy and kind of a mooch), and a sexual liaison with a Japanese teacher (whose feelings for him he doesn’t really reciprocate). But what else is he to do? The undercurrent of the book is the crushing slowness of smalltown life and the way cultural clashes redouble Dan’s boredom, frustration, and isolation. The distinctive look of Martinson’s black-and-white artwork--four borderless panels on each page, fanatically cross-hatched backgrounds behind characters drawn as broad caricatures with a few bold lines, typeset dialogue--owes a lot to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s Goodman Beaver. But Martinson’s breed of humor is less broad satire than a darker comedy of embarrassment: awkward silences, tedious karaoke, the frustration of trying to find a socially appropriate Secret Santa present, the wince of a one-night stand offering Dan her business card, Dan’s growing sense that nothing he does will let him fit in with any community. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Dan, a depressed and lonely American, is teaching English in Japan. He doesn't really know where he stands in a relationship with an American girl, Constance. After a confusing end to the evening after a Halloween party, he is even more despondent. He goes to work every day and feels laughed at by his students and spends his afternoons in a dump of an apartment with maybe an errand to the store. One day before Christmas, he receives a phone call from Constance asking him to join her at a local establishment. He agrees and is more confused when she arrives with the man she left the Halloween party with. The story continues with Dan continually confronting uncomfortable social situations and cultural differences, and it ends with hope of a third installment. The simple art features four panels per page in a palette of blue, black, and white, clearly identifying the mood of the story. As the foreigner, Dan appears much whiter then everyone else and never shows any facial emotion. While this story does a good job of representing a stranger in a strange land, it also accurately represents how outsiders may view the Japanese culture in this kind of setting. A graphic novel more suited for older audiences due to the language and a few sex scenes, this is an additional purchase for most YA collections.—Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780980102338
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 489,488
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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