Kaerou – Time to Go Home – B.Jeanne Shibahara

Thank you to the author, B. Jeanne Shibahara for providing me with a copy of Kaerou – Time to go Home in exchange for an honest review.

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“In Japan…everywhere…red strings tie all people we meet together. Some strings are weak. Some have tangles. Some strong.”

Meryl—Vietnam War widow—misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure—take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”

My Review

Thank you to the author, B. Jeanne Shibahara for providing me with a copy of Kaerou – Time to go Home in exchange for an honest review.

Kaerou – Time to Go Home is unlike any other novel I have ever read. As a kimono, this story is beautiful, delicate, complex and one to be treasured.

The story follows Meryl, Vietnam war widow as she makes her way to Japan after being handed a WWII flag. Meryl meets many interesting characters along the way, including the Professor who initially encouraged her to go to Japan to hopefully return the flag to where it belongs.

As I started reading this novel my attention was initially drawn to the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Shibaharasan has chosen beautiful quotes that are from some of my favourite poets/novelists and some that I wish to further explore. The novel is beautifully written and it is evident that the author is well read, having extensively researched literature and historical facts. I love reading novels where I not only gain an emotional experience, but ones that I learn a lot from too.

I particularly loved the setting of the novel. I was taken to the bright lights of Osaka, the historical town of Nara and the traditional world of Akita. There is a true sense of Japanese culture within the pages. The descriptions were vivid and I was instantly transported to Japan, my second home. I could smell spring as I read of the blossoms and in particular, Ms Kawanishi who notices the delicate nature and subtleties of the plum trees. There is a juxtaposition of beauty and the horrors of war that truly emphasises the strength of the Japanese and US citizens.

The characters in the novel face their own challenges and I enjoyed reading about each characters’ backstory too. Mr Baba’s heartfelt story of his family had me in tears and Byron’s ability to teach much more than English to his student was beautiful. Meryl, the protagonist faces her grief and sorrow. I felt that her character was gentle, respectful and courageous, especially in her meeting in Akita. If anything, I was left longing to find out more about the owner of the flag once it was returned home. I wonder if this could possibly give way to a future novel? (Or am I just hoping to read more of B.Jeanne Shibahara’s work?!)

Kaerou – Time to Go Home made me laugh and cry. I felt that I had arrived home once I finished the novel. I feel like I experienced every emotion possible whilst reading it. The quote ‘love in the simplest things’ resonates with me. I was left feeling calm, relaxed, grateful and appreciative of everything and everyone in my life. I would highly recommend this historical fiction/romance novel to anyone. If you love Japan, its people and culture along with a good romance, I suggest you read Kaerou – Time to Go Home.


8 thoughts on “Kaerou – Time to Go Home – B.Jeanne Shibahara

    1. Thank you B.Jeanne for your response to my review. I love Kaerou and hope that many people will read and enjoy it as I did. It is a book like no other and I enjoyed every moment of Meryl’s journey to Japan and back. It is a truly beautiful story. ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Melanie,
    Thanks for the honest, heartfelt review of KAEROU! I love this book beyond words. I walked through the streets of Osaka many times, taught English there, and lived in Nara so B. Jeanne’s descriptions of the setting deeply resonate with me. What an amazing storyline too, built around a factual incident that happened in the 90’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lee, thank you for your comment. Isn’t it a beautifully written story! It is nice to hear that the story also resonated with you. Me too. The words describe many experiences on my travels throughout one of the most amazing places in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i love a this story.I’m a Japanese. I was convinced by this story that the author loves Japan.
    Thank you B.Jeanne!
    and special thanks for Melanie’s nice review! it was easy for me to understand.

    Liked by 2 people

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