Bantam Books, Paperback, 9780553380989, 289pp.
Publication Date: June 29, 2004
The Washington Post praised Mako Yoshikawa’s extraordinary first novel, One Hundred and One Ways, as “strikingly assured.” The Orlando Sentinel called it “an impressive accomplishment.” In Once Removed, Yoshikawa continues in the tradition of Alice Walker and Amy Tan with a powerful story of two women from different cultures who form a deep friendship that, though severely tested, can never be broken.
It has been many long years since Claudia last saw her Japanese-American stepsister. Once upon a time, Claudia’s Jewish father fell in love with Rei’s Japanese mother and abandoned his family to be with her. Though Claudia resented this new family her father so readily embraced, from the moment she and Rei met, the two girls formed a bond not even their parents understood. Their long-standing joke is that they are mirror reflections of each other--though in truth they are striking opposites. Claudia is blond and large-boned; Rei is dark-haired and thin, with distinct Asian features.
Now in their early thirties, Claudia and Rei have found a way back into each other’s troubled life. As impulsively affectionate as ever, Rei has come to Boston to recuperate from a potentially life-threatening illness, while the typically cautious Claudia has found herself replicating the behavior of her step-mother by falling in love with a married man. As they come together, the two women realize they must strike a balance between the friendship they long to recover and the secrets they have learned to keep. And they discover that despite the distance that has grown between them, their bond is as strong as ever--and could help them repair the other wounded relationships in their lives.
Lyrical, evocative, and richly imagined, Once Removed is an exceptional tale of two families, two cultures, and the connection between two women that survives the betrayals of those around them. Taking us from the exotic Japan of the 1940s and ’50s, to the verdant English countryside, to the urban streets of Boston, Mako Yoshikawa is a gifted storyteller who has firmly established her place in contemporary fiction.