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Review of My Fish Will Live by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki is a Japanese American, a specialist in classical Japanese literature, a florist, and a keen student of theater and film. She was ordained a Buddhist priest in 2010. Like other famous Japanese American women, like Masako Katsura, Ozeki is active on university campuses and lives between Brooklyn and Cortez Island, British Columbia, where she writes, knits socks and raises ducks with her husband Oliver.

Ruth, a writer living on a secluded Canadian island, discovers an entire collection of surprising objects-including the diary of sixteen-year-old Naoko from Tokyo-in a Hello Kitty lunchbox brought ashore after the devastating 2011 tsunami. For a girl tired of being bullied by her classmates and a dysfunctional family, these notes, in which she tries to tell about her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun for over a century, are her only comfort, and she can’t even imagine how deeply they will touch the lives of people she doesn’t know. Across the Pacific, Ruth, increasingly immersed in the past, in the tragedy of the Japanese schoolgirl and her fate, begins to take a fresh look at her own present and future.

“My Fish Will Live” is a novel full of subtle irony, a deep understanding of the relationship between author, reader and characters, reality and fantasy, quantum physics, history and myth. This is a fascinating, enchanting story about humanity and the search for home.

Overall the book is quite good, but be prepared for a nice melancholy and at times just depressing narrative. The first few chapters seemed a bit drawn out, but then the plot made up for it.

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