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Rizzuto, Rahna Reiko

142 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0060193700 / ISBN 13: 9780060193706
Published by Harpercollins, New York, 1999
Used Hardcover
From Rare Book Cellar (Pomona, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Very Good in a Very Good dust jacket. ; ; 9.30 X 6.10 X 1.40 inches; 295 pages; Original unclipped dust jacket protected by archival Brodart cover. All domestic orders shipped protected in a Box. Bookseller Inventory # 58337

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Harpercollins, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: First Edition; Second Printing.

About this title


After giving birth to a child out of wedlock on the eve of World War II, Emi Okada flees to the U.S. where she endures internment in the Colorado desert and then embarks on a lifetime of unraveling the family secrets that have shaped her troubled existence. Tour.


Why She Left Us revolves around an intriguing mystery: a Japanese American woman's abandonment of her illegitimate child during World War II. Rahna Reiko Rizzuto reveals the reason for her act--and its effect on four generations of her family--in a series of alternating narratives. A son, daughter, mother, and brother all chime in, and the author's sophisticated interweaving of their tales is what gives this debut novel much of its power.

Rizzuto's book includes its share of violent and disturbing incidents. A daughter helps her mother give birth on the floor of a shack; a son accompanies his senile grandfather to the toilet; a brother delivers a swift kick to his pregnant sister's belly. Yet Why She Left Us never relies on mere sensationalism. For one thing, the author's prose is strong and vivid, and she's particularly good at evoking the passage of time: "My life doesn't come to me in any order," notes one character. "Moments flip-flop, overlap--sometimes they come only in splinters." This isn't, it should be said, a big-canvas portrait of wartime life. But Rizzuto has produced a minute and successful investigation of the moments that define what a family is.

That leaves the initial mystery. To her credit, Rizzuto doesn't come up with a pat solution: instead, she offers up a collage of perceptions, which fuse into a kind of answer as the story progresses. In other words, this is the latest addition to a growing canon of diplomatic, Rashomon-like novels. Why She Left Us is a true study in perspectives--and a kaleidoscopic lesson about the nature of memory and forgiveness. --Rucker Alex

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