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Book Review: The Silk Box by Shirley Mihoko Hairston

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There are times when you just get a feeling about a book when you read the bumph on the back cover. When I read the blurb about Shirley Mihoko Hairston’s novel The Silk Box I knew that I had to read it and I hoped that it would live up to my expectations. I am extremely happy to be able to say that it did.

It is the true story of the writer’s parents -– Mi-Chan, her mother, was a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb and Sonny, her father, a young black American stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Both have to cope with the prejudices of their society and yet, when they meet, the two societies fade away in the strength of their love – love at first sight.

The story of their lives unfolds like the petals of a flower, beautifully drawn by Shirley Mihoko Hairston. Most of the novel follows Mi-Chan and Sonny separately, showing the reader their lives and struggles, through flashbacks, and by the end I was praying for them to be able to get together. Both face their trials and tribulations with integrity and honour. The thread of their story is intertwined with many other lives, occasionally touching each other’s lives and bound with the absolute certainty in both their hearts that they were meant to be together.

This is the story of their journey to be with each other.

The vivid images of Japan, America, the suffering of so many people and the joy earned through experience and love will remain with me for a very long time. Hairston writes like an artist, splashing gorgeous colours of emotion throughout The Silk Box, creating a story that flows effortlessly, a story I could only put down when other duties or sleep called. Her love of her parents and the incredible love they had for each other envelopes everything. To know that this is a true story is even more moving.

It is remarkable to read such an honest and well written book. It is one thing to have such a story to tell, it’s yet another to be able to write it in a way that guides the reader invisibly and enfolds them in the story you are writing. Shirley Mihoko Hairston does just this. As I reached the last pages of The Silk Box my heart ached. I just did not want it to end. I wanted to know everything about Mi-Chan and Sonny’s lives after the book had closed, and I hope that the author will write a follow up book so I can immerse myself again in the lives of two amazing people and their family.

I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. It both touched and inspired me, and I would recommend it to anyone.

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