Friday, March 7, 2014

ARC Review: The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

Title: The Language Inside by Holly Thompson
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Prose, Romance, Culture, Drama
Medium: ARC Paperback Via Publisher

The Language Inside was a a beautiful creative look into Japanese culture and the impact poetry can have on people. A unique mix of poetry, dance, family, and friendship inside a dramatic and romantic contemporary, this novel is interesting and creative beyond belief. An insightful look into Japanese culture, life after the tsunami, trauma, and many other problems, this novel not only is enjoyable, but also teaches many morals.

A nuanced novel in verse that explores identity in a multicultural world.

Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it's the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma's family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with Emma's grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.

Emma feels out of place in the United States.She begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother's urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena's poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return home early to Japan.

The plot of this novel was magnificent. It flowed nicely as it followed the young Emma as she left her home in Japan to live in America as her mom has to have her breast removed and participate in treatments due to breast cancer. Emma is faced with many of the usual struggles, like making new friends, missing her old friends, and dealing with family, friendship, and possible relationship problems. But she is also faced with dealing with her healing mother, helping out her new friend Zena at the care home, trying to think of ways to help out with the Tsunami victims, and struggling to find out where she fits in this whole situation and how she can help. One thing I really liked about Emma is how she strives to help everyone and spreads herself thin without even realizing she isn't living her own life. Until the end. There is quite a lot of character change that takes place within this interesting and creative plot, and it is sure to keep you enchanted.

I will briefly touch on the characters in this novel, since I found them all so wonderfully interesting and unique. They each played their own important role in the novel's story and each one had an interesting back story. Each character's dialogue fit perfectly and they were all very realistic. I especially loved Samnang's character and the way he accepted his past and strived to change for himself and for Emma. The way he interacted with her was very natural and sweet, and the romance that budded between this was very magical and classic.

The writing was eloquent and beautiful. Written with such skill and simplicity, this novel's writing came across beautifully, both dramatic, tragic, romantic, and compassionate. Those four words can describe this novel perfectly and entirely. Thompson writes a novel in beautiful prose that is both flowing and descriptive, something that cannot always be accomplished in prose. I very much enjoyed her writing and I cannot wait to read more in the future.

The beginning of this novel was a little slow, and at times, I felt like the writing was a bit choppy and disinteresting, and a little bland as "filler type" writing. Aside from these few qualms I had with the story, I saw The Language Inside as a beautiful, simple contemporary that was a wonderful mix of Japanese culture and family. With drama, romance, trauma, and more, this novel is one that fans of all genres can enjoy. Simply beautiful.

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