Above the East China Sea

Above the East China Sea

A Novel

Book - 2014
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"Luz James, a contemporary U.S. Air Force brat, lives with her strictly-by-the-rules sergeant mother at Kadena Air Base in Okianawa. Luz's older sister, her best friend and emotional center, has just been killed in the Afghan war. Unmoored by her sister's death and a lifetime of constant moving from base to base, Luz turns for the comfort her service-hardened mother cannot offer to the “Smokinawans,” the “waste cases,” who gather to get high every night in a deserted cove. When even pills, one-hitters, Cuervo Gold, and a growing crush on Jake Furusato aren't enough to soften the unbearable edge, the desolate girl contemplates taking her own life. In 1945, Tamiko Kokuba, along with two hundred of her classmates, is plucked out of her elite girls' high school and trained to work in the Imperial Army's horrific cave hospitals. With defeat certain, Tamiko finds herself squeezed between the occupying Japanese and the invading Americans. She believes she has lost her entire family, as well as the island paradise she so loved, and, like Luz, she aches with a desire to be reunited with her beloved sister. On an island where the spirits of the dead are part of life and your entire clan waits for you in the afterworld, suicide offers Tamiko the promise of peace. As Luz tracks down the story of her own Okinawan grandmother, she discovers that, if she surrenders to the most unbrat impulse and allows herself to connect completely with a place and its people, the ancestral spirits will save not only Tamiko but her as well. "--Amazon.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2014
ISBN: 9780385350112
Branch Call Number: BIR
Characteristics: 317 p. :,maps ;,25 cm

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GilmoreGuide
Jun 21, 2014

In Sarah Bird's new novel Above the East China Sea the island of Okinawa is the centerpiece of a multi-generational drama that plays out during World War II and modern times. Tamiko is a native of the island in the 1940s when it is considered an outpost of Japan. She wants only to be like her older sister, Hatsuko, who attends the Princess Lily high school, meaning she has a chance at a life beyond being a maid or shop clerk but can move into the lower rungs of Japanese society. Luz is her contemporary counterpart, living on the island because her mother is stationed there. As a military brat she feels no ties to anyone or anything—a trait compounded by the fact that her sister Codie was recently killed in Afghanistan. Losing this only tie to love has hardened her to the point of foolish risks and being utterly closed off to people of any kind. Bird takes these two young girls and by blending the past and the present pulls the reader into a story of love, war, heritage, and devotion.

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