05 Feb / Phantoms by Christian Kiefer [in Booklist]
Peter Berkrot is not a Japanese speaker – and somehow, he went into the recording studio without pronunciation guidance, an aural detail that unfortunately mars an otherwise stellar presentation of Christian Kiefer’s (Infinite Tides) stunning, slim third novel. With his folksy, inviting delivery, Berkrot magnetically lures listeners in, as though he’s divulging vital secrets not to be missed – which couldn’t be more true. Vietnam vet John Frazier returns home to California drug-addicted and with PTSD, unable to readjust to civilian life, not yet the novelist he thinks he might be.
Untethered, he’s drawn into a decades-old mystery involving his distantly related Aunt Evelyn, who requests John drive her to the home of Japanese American former neighbor Kimiko Takahashi. The two women share WWII tragedies – including, for the Takahashi family, the loss of their very freedom when they were unjustly imprisoned for the duration of the war. Evelyn lost her son; Kimiko hers, as well, although Ray’s disappearance remains unsolved – until John finally discovers the heinous legacy of virulent racism and entitled violence.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult