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5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy
Are you the kind of person who has vivid dreams and finds them fascinating? Do you walk around old dusty antique stores and find yourself absorbed in another world? Do those large picture books that have you try to find a small item hidden in a cluttered room draw you in? Do you hear rich poetic prose and be able to visualize every symbol and alusion? Are you...
Published on Feb. 13 2012 by Valin

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay.
I purchased this book for one of my classes, but to be honest, I did not even finish it... I tried to enjoy it, and there were some parts that were interesting, but overall I found it to be confusing and boring.
Published 5 months ago by ~


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3.0 out of 5 stars Okay., Feb. 15 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Obasan (Mass Market Paperback)
I purchased this book for one of my classes, but to be honest, I did not even finish it... I tried to enjoy it, and there were some parts that were interesting, but overall I found it to be confusing and boring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy, Feb. 13 2012
This review is from: Obasan (Mass Market Paperback)
Are you the kind of person who has vivid dreams and finds them fascinating? Do you walk around old dusty antique stores and find yourself absorbed in another world? Do those large picture books that have you try to find a small item hidden in a cluttered room draw you in? Do you hear rich poetic prose and be able to visualize every symbol and alusion? Are you knowledgeable enough about people and history and culture to be able to piece together and relate to what a character is trying to share with you through symbolism? Do you even know what all the literary elements are and how they are used? If yes, then you will be able to enjoy this book. If you understand the Japanese culture and mind-set, you will enjoy it even more. You will understand the mastery of brilliant connections that weave throughout Obasan like a spider's web in the attic. Pick silence: she is silent when she is abused because she is young and there is poor communication at home, she is silent against the bullies because silence is all she knows, she is silent because she is Japanese and in her culture, communication is silent and symbolic rather than straight forward, but because of this silence, so many things have gone wrong and unresolved. It is a story about an innocent culture that has had to suffer because of their nature to just bow their heads in silence and deference to others. Shallow thinkers just won't get it and may even find it boring or slow, but the deep thinker will be fulfilled. BTW, my son, who is a musician and self-described philosopher, was 17 at the time he read this book for English 12. He was so moved and inspired by it that he wrote a stunning poem after reading the dream sequences. He was also inspired to make a video using dry ice to depict the boat dream, and you should have read his thoughtful essays. Oh my, this is what Obasan can do to the right type of reader.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I remember enjoying this book, Jan. 11 2012
By 
David Sabine (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Obasan (Mass Market Paperback)
I remember reading this book in the mid-90s while in university. It's powerful at times, tender at others. Worth reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, yet somewhat disappointing..., Nov. 7 2001
By 
Adina Warren (Anderson, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Obasan (Paperback)
Obasan, written by Joy Kogawa, is a deeply detailed book that sends the reader on a journey through actual events, dream sequences, and a twisted maze of a Japanese family's struggle in Canada during the 1940's-1970's. Although the book is obviously written with deeply emotional images and events, I found myself completely let down with the ending. With more than 250 pages of build up to what I expected to be a somewhat shocking ending, I was disappointed to discover that I wasn't emotional attached enough to the characters to appreciate their struggles. Although I enjoyed the book to an extent, I can not deny that it took me awhile to get into it, and then slipped in a heart wrenching account of events at the end that just didn't evoke emotions in me. Expect a well written novel with detailed images and poetic flow, yet also expect a slow beginning and an ending that seems to leave the reader hanging.
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3.0 out of 5 stars obasan, April 13 2011
This review is from: Obasan (Mass Market Paperback)
This book arrived on time, and in good condition.
I personally found it a slow read and would have tossed it aside if I didn't need it for my English class.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and poignant, Feb. 23 2009
By 
Julie Olsen "Jill of all trades" (Edmonton, AB, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Obasan (Mass Market Paperback)
This is one of my favorite 5 fictions I've ever read, and I probably have averaged a book every two weeks for the last 15 years. I started reading it for a second time literally seconds after finishing it the first time.

The language is so carefully considered and chosen that it is hard for me to explain the effect. The care taken in writing this book is very evident. I think this attention to detail might be a trait that the Japanese prize highly, because it reminded me of the Japanese men's gymnastic team at the last Olympics. Every movement was considered and perfectly executed, much as the words and paragraphs in this book were. I wished I had learned to read more slowly, so I could have savored it more.

Additionally, the topic is one that gets nearly no attention, even though it deserves it. If we are to read about the holocaust, and we should, we should also read about our own North American injustices - not because they are equal in scope (there is no comparison), but because they are similar in spirit. It helps to emphasize that there should be no "Us and Them" mentality when it comes to injustice. We all have done it, we all should learn from it.

These things being said, I do find it surprising that this book was required reading for any students. It could have a place in some post-secondary courses, but it is definitely more appropriate for adults than teenagers, and the poetic language is more for people interested in language, wordplay, and the use of words than those that like a straightforward plot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Forced Read, But Pretty Good., Nov. 6 2007
This review is from: Obasan (Paperback)
I admit, I wasn't impressed when I was first told to read this for my English class. It seemed a little boring. But as I got into the book it started leaving me with so many questions. It's the kind of book that you have to finish just to see what happens in the end. It's so full of symbolism, though it's a little difficult to understand it all. The chickens were just weird. I can understand the symbolism of it, but they were brought up way too much for my liking.

Overall the book was good. It makes a lot more sense when you have a class to discuss it with. I did, however, find the journal entries very boring [I never actually read them..]. There were bits that were too graphic for my taste, and I'm a big fan of gore. But it's overkill after a point. The last few chapters are just beautiful. They're extremely well written and I feel in love with them the minute I read them.

The book has very good messages portrayed through the whole thing.

I would give it a five if not for the confusion and gore factors. It's definitely a book that makes you think and one more appropriate for a group setting than something to just read on your own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, March 20 2002
By 
Kai Bond (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Obasan (Paperback)
Joy has a flair for honesty. This book was deeply emotional and one of the best books on the internment experience. Forget Snow Falling of Cedar Hills! This is the book you want to get.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful and emotional book, March 16 2002
By 
Nino Natsvlichvili (Ottawa, On, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Obasan (School & Library Binding)
Joy Kogawa explained very clearly what happened to the Japanese people in Canada during WW 2. The story was very well, and you could still follow all the things that happened to the people. Everything becomes very clear.
The story is told through the eyes of Naomi Nakane, the main character, who wants to find out what happened to the past, the time when the Japanese people were haunted down. She kind of begins telling the story from when she was 5 and it all started. Her mother had to leave Canada and go to Japan. Until she was an adult, Naomi didn't find out why her mom never came back and why she never got the letters she wrote.
Obasan is Naomi's aunt who practically raised her (since age five). Obasan was always silent and never told Naomi about the past. Naomi gest a package from her other aunt Emily with all kinds of information about what happened in the past. So she finds out all the details.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The hard memories�, Dec 3 2001
By 
bob (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Obasan (Paperback)
I read Obasan once and thought that it was quite a different perspective. I mean, different perspective, by saying that most WWII stories take place in the U.S.A., but Kogawa has brilliantly let the reader rediscover Naomi, the main character's, experiences during the war through the eyes of Naomi. A short version of what happens is Naomi has a close family member that dies and she begins to recap her past that she was hoping to forget.
She grew up in Vancouver Canada. Her mother than decides to go to Japan to attend some other family business, then WWII begins when she is gone. Naomi is then left with her brother Stephen and her father. They are soon relocated to other parts of Canada being criticized about their heritage of being Japanese. Obasan to me is a well-written short novel that really well does explain Naomi's life but almost with a poetic sense. I would have to say the only thing that I was disappointed with was the fact that the book was very slow at the beginning and a bit confusing but eventually comes together towards the end.
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Obasan
Obasan by Joy Kogawa (Paperback - April 4 2006)
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