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Dreams of Cherry Blossoms
A riveting saga unfolding at the end of World War 2, Dreams of Cherry Blossoms is the improbable love story of American Navy officer Richard Jackson and Japanese college professor Emiko Murakami. He experiences the horror of war on a destroyer and sees firsthand the wasteland of Japan as a member of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s occupation staff. Emiko lives in fear that her beloved hometown, the former Imperial capital of Kyoto will be destroyed by B-29 firebombing raids. \tWith the beauty, culture and history of Kyoto as a backdrop, they fall in love despite the fact she’s married to a much older man. As their love deepens Richard travels the country meeting survivors, including an American woman and her Japanese diplomat husband, a man who survived both atomic bombings, young Japanese “comfort” women the Japanese government makes available to American servicemen and a Japanese girl who believes cherry blossoms turned black just before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among numerous others. \tIn the dramatic ending, Jackson faces the excruciating decision of whether to marry Emiko or return the States alone.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: This work offers a different angle on World War II, one that integrates both a romantic storyline as well as a thoroughly researched staging of an incomparable historical event. While providing verisimilitude, Miller also supplies engaging drama and forward momentum, allowing for the reader's full immersion in the circumstances.

Prose/Style: The candid, visceral prose style enhances Miller's storytelling. The pacing, central conflict, and sense of great immediacy is a testament to the author's superior skills.

Originality: The most original aspect of this story lies in its setting. The choice to stage the work at a greatly pivotal moment in history, is a brave and ambitious one, executed with grace, sensitivity, and intelligence.

Character Development: Both the primary and secondary characters possess distinctive and  resonant voices, while dialogue demonstrates nuance and authenticity. Historical fiction readers with a passion for World War II will be captivated by the story of Richard Jackson and Emiko. However, the most memorable sections are those that tell the stories of survivors--and the haunting  impact of the profoundly traumatic event at the story's core.

Date Submitted: August 18, 2019

Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

“Miller …astutely captures the burden of a disgraced nation now under the governorship of a people it deeply distrusts and fears. The author’s command of the historical period is masterful, and he powerfully depicts the consequences of military loss as well as victory…Miller’s nuanced rendering of the moral complexities of the occupation is compelling, as when the United States and Japanese governments cooperatively supply American troops with sex workers—mainly to prevent instances of rape, MacArthur explains…An exceedingly intelligent exploration of World War II–era Japan…” — Kirkus Reviews

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