Local author writes sensitive story about Japanese youngster moving to America
“Ayumi’s Violin” by local author Mariko Tatsumoto is an insightful book written for tweens, and it also is totally engaging for anyone who admires good writing and enjoys a sensitive story about a youngster moving to America.
When her Japanese mother dies, Ayumi is 12. With financial help from her mother’s musician friends, she sails on a freighter to meet and live with her American father near Pasadena. He greets her with warmth and love. But he has a wife named Marilyn and another daughter named Brenda, age 10. These two are not at all welcoming. In fact, Marilyn is a racist and Brenda is spoiled and resentful of her new step-sister.
The story is sensitively and compassionately told from Ayumi’s point of view as she admires much about the U.S., especially having come from a very poor environment in a country where space is at a premium. She is amazed that her Dad’s car “has a room of its own,” that “houses were so far apart that she’d have to shout at a neighbor to be noticed instead of being heard through thin walls…” and that she has a room of her own. “Only the Emperor could have a room like this,” she mused.
But Ayumi feels like a misfit faced with unfamiliar customs. Even though she speaks English well, she faces outspoken prejudice, bullying and culture shock – in her home, in her neighborhood and at school. Without giving away the plot, it will be Ayumi’s talent in playing the violin that will move the story to its inspirational conclusion. Along the way, the author teaches life lessons in a sympathetic, un-patronizing way.
Author Mariko says this tale is not about her life, although she has experienced prejudice like Ayumi did. She was born in Tokyo and then moved to Pasadena with her mother and older brother to join her father, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology. Her father’s job at the U.S. Geological Survey brought the family to Denver, and Mariko has been a Colorado resident ever since. She attended the University of Colorado and practiced law in Denver and Aspen. A skiing trip to Wolf Creek brought her and her husband to Pagosa, where they bought land and built a house in 1996.
Ayumi's Violin is named a Finalist for the Colorado Authors' League 2016 Award