My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautifully written story about love and loyalty, friendship and family. Set during World War II amid the Japanese occupation of Malaya, there is a rich blend of cultures and conflicts, personal and global. The narrator, Philip, is a child of dual heritage (British and Chinese) who recounts his struggle to find his place in a chaotic world. From a vantage point some 50 years after the War, he explains his past actions leading to his decisions to work with the Japanese to a friend of his former sensei, Endo-san. Philip exhibits such detailed and vivid descriptions—sights, sounds, smells, feelings—that the reader forgets he is relating from memory.
Ultimately Philip learns to “accept that there are things in this world we can never explain and life will be understandable. That is the irony of life. It is also the beauty of it.” He also learns to understand why, at an early age, a fortune-teller said he was born with the “gift of rain.” The rains (monsoons) figure prominently throughout the landscape of the story.
I highly recommend this book.
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