Westward Lies the Sun Book Reviews
Seraphia VINE VOICEA Well Thought Out Novel
Westward Lies the Sun by Robert H. Kono is a historical fiction novel interlaced with a Christian angle. This is the first book that I have read by this author and overall I can easily say that I enjoyed reading this story. The author writes an engaging story that slips back and forth between the times after the World Wars and the other battles that followed, to a time period several years later. The author tells the story of Greg Sonoda, a Sansei Japanese American, as he strives to rediscover and reclaim a family heirloom that was stolen during the tragic times of World War II when Japanese Americans and their Japanese families were hauled off to the camps set up by the government. This story also touches on a Christian aspect as Greg and his friends hold conversations concerning faith and whether God exists. This story follows Greg and his family as the author tells their story. Westward Lies the Sun, for me, was most engaging with the historical aspect and the glances/reflections back in time as Greg was questing to discover more about his family and their heritage. I can tell that the author truly did a substantial amount of research to bring this book to life. I can honestly picture the scenes the author describes the places that Greg visits or the times that he recalls the things that he experienced. I was truly gripped at those times. My heart was heavy as I read about the things that they went through at the hands of their fellow Americans simply because it was ordered that Japanese Americans and their families essentially be rounded up and put into camps simply because of suspicion and fear. I appreciate the amount of detail that the author writes in this story. There are Japanese words throughout this book and I am highly appreciative that the author makes sure to include the translations or descriptions so that I as a reader can know what it is that he is describing/talking about. There isn’t much that I don’t like about this book. I would have liked it if the author had pointed out the shifts in time in this book. The author slips back and forth between the past and “present-day” for the characters in this book. One minute Greg is in Japan with his relatives visiting them and doing his part as a member of the U.S. Military, and then he’s older, married, and at home dealing with his job and family. I’d have liked it if the author had simply pointed out the shifts by saying the date and year so that I’d realize that this is no longer the same moment happening in the story. While this story is also categorized as “Christian” fiction, I feel that the Christian aspect isn’t as focused on. I feel that the story focuses mostly on Greg, his past, present, and that it gives moments to the Christian aspect and the questions that surround the true existence of God and the things that He allows to happen in the world. Part of me would have liked for the story to focus more on the search for the family sword, but I found myself enjoying this story quite nicely as it is overall. All in all, I am rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. The part that I enjoyed the most was the historical aspect of the story. I like the author taking me back in time to just after the wars, I liked the reflections on what they suffered because I feel that it reminds us to never forget what happened to those who were true Americans based on anger, fear, and prejudice. Since the Christian aspect isn’t heavy-handed like I had feared it would be, I feel that I was more able to enjoy this book than I had originally thought. For those who enjoy historical fiction novels, I think that they will enjoy this book as it is well-written, tugs at the reader’s heart in appropriate moments, and keeps you wanting to read more of this book. I honestly look forward to what this author writes next as they have a true gift at story-telling.
Rebecca Deeply emotional and thoughtful
This was a deeply emotional and thoughtful novel. It was incredibly well written. It was a wonderful story of a man struggling to find both God and himself. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book in exchange for a free copy.