A Bridge Between Us

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Doubleday, 1996 - Fiction - 272 pages
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Four generations of Japanese-American women make their home in a large house in San Francisco, united by the obligations of family and tradition and, perhaps, by love. In alternating chapters, Reiko, Rio, Tomoe and Nomi Hito speak with unflinching honesty about the secrets that have separated mother from daughter - and the fierce ties of intimacy that form an inextricable bridge between them. Matriarch Reiko Hito's forbidding, imperious manner masks the gentle, life-sustaining memories she cherishes of her loving immigrant father and the magical stories he told her about the mother she never knew. Rio, Reiko's daughter, briefly finds the love denied her by her mother in the unlikely setting of a relocation camp during World War II. When her hope for happiness is destroyed by a deception she will understand only years later, Rio retreats into a convenient, passionless marriage. Tomoe, joining the Hito family as a young bride, faithfully honors the Japanese custom of caring for her husband's grandmother Reiko and his parents, Rio and Tadashi; even when she becomes an independent, working woman, she remains enmeshed in the demands, spoken and unspoken, of the older generations and of Nomi, her own daughter. Nomi, eager to escape both the reality and fantasies suffocating her family, journeys alone to Japan. Only upon her return from this visit to the home of her ancestors can she finally face the secrets that bind her family together.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

With this fluid debut novel, Shigekuni raises the emotional and artistic stakes in the burgeoning genre of the multigenerational ethnic saga. In an elegant touch, protagonist Nomi notes that the ... Read full review

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A Bridge Between Us tells the story of four generations of Japanese American women living under one roof. The author combines each of their stories to give the reader four distinct perspectives, interweaving much about families as well.

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About the author (1996)

Julie Shigekuni is the author of "A Bridge Between Us," which was the recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Shigekuni received her B.A. from Hunter College and her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Art, Mills College, and is now on the creative writing faculty at the University of New Mexico. She lives in Corrales, New Mexico, with her husband and their three young daughters.

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