About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#57: Butterfly's Child

Butterfly's Child, by Angela Davis-Gardner (New York: Dial Press, 2011).

When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji's true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha. But when the truth about Benji surfaces, it will splinter this family's fragile dynamic, sending repercussions spiraling through their close-knit rural community and sending Benji on the journey of a lifetime."

Opening Line:
"It is spring in Nagasaki, and the strands of silk she has set out for the mating birds are gone from the maple tree in the garden, and the mother birds are nestled in silk, but still he has not come."

My Take:
Really enjoyed this one; I'm always a sucker for new takes on old classics (how many times have I said this before?), and was actually just thinking about this book last night, as I listened to Miss Saigon while I prepped dinner. I only wish I hadn't let a full month go by before writing about it -- some of the details have since blurred a little, plus I'm in a trying-to-catch-up-and-reinvigorate-the-book-blog hurry -- but I liked that it gave voice and agency to some of the characters who weren't really endowed with much in the original. Pinkerton himself is important, of course, but almost a secondary character in this book; far more compelling are Benji himself, the well-meaning if inconsistent Kate, and the kindly widower neighbor (whose name escapes me now) who becomes probably Benji's truest friend. Ultimately, even Cio Cio/ Butterfly herself becomes something a bit more than, well, a victim and/or a stereotype, but to say much more here would give too much away. I may even have to go back and read this one again at some point, and that's high praise.

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