One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
I haven’t written about things I’ve read lately, so that will be the subject of this weekend’s One Good Thing, since this past week found me finishing a very good “old” book that I discovered by chance in a local second-hand store.
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson has been around for a while. Published in 1994, it is a story set on San Piedro, a rather secluded island in Puget Sound. Its main industries are fishing and raising strawberries and various other fruits, and the residents pretty much keep to themselves.
The story is set during a powerful snowstorm in the winter of 1954, where Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is on trial for the murder of his childhood friend Carl Heine. Carl was found dead and tangled in his own net after a foggy night on the water, and the likely culprit is Kabul.
Exactly why he is the major suspect is developed as the story moves along.
Ishmael Chambers, editor of the local paper and childhood sweetheart of Kabuo’s wife, Hatsue, is in the courtroom to cover the proceedings. And it is through his eyes and point of view that we learn the “backstory” leading up to the current situation.
Through a series of flashbacks, which Guterson handles with skill, keeping the reader wondering what the next twist or turn in the story will involve, editor Chambers takes us back to his seemingly lovely island childhood where he and Hatsue discovered first love.
Unfortunately, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Ishmael’s and Hatsue’s youthful emotions and budding feelings for each other are lost when she and her family are banished to a Japanese internment camp.
Hurt and bitter with the loss of Hatsue, Ishmael found himself in the service and sent to the Pacific theater, where he ended up losing an arm in the battle of Tarawa, merely adding to the major losses in his life.
The book is a good one, clearly showing the kinds of prejudice that were prevalent at the time. With Guterson’s clear prose and description of a heartbreaking tale in a lonely place, I can see why Snow Falling on Cedars received several awards.
I’m not sure how I never found this book a long time ago or saw the film adaptation of it, but I’m glad I found it tucked away on a shelf in that second-hand store. It cost me fifty cents, and that was quite a steal for the quality of the writing and overall story which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’ve decided that it’s a pretty good idea to check those shelves in those old stores. One never knows what hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered!