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Sheard, Sarah.

Toronto. Coach House Press, 1987. 125pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88910-277-5.

Reviewed by Leslie McGrath

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

Almost Japanese, Sheard's first novel, is a perceptive, delicate exploration of the experience of growing up and letting go.

Emma, the heroine, is an impressionable fourteen years of age when she first meets and falls in love with Akira, a young Japanese symphony conductor, By chance, Akira moves in next door. Emma's affection, given plenty of scope by her new opportunities for visiting, spying and day-dreaming, develops into a near obsession. Undaunted by the concern and ridicule of her family, Emma immerses herself in Japanese culture. When Akira must eventually return to Japan, Emma shaves her head in despair at the prospect of the meaningless existence before her.

After several restless years Emma travels to Japan in an attempt to find, or at least identify, the cause of her dissatisfaction with North American life. Emma's voyage of discovery, which culminates in a reunion with Akira, is made more poignant by the knowledge that she will never make this trip again.

Almost Japanese is spare and finely crafted, written with an economy of characters and dialogue enhanced by the still-shot, photographic quality of the Journal-entry format. A successful novel and a satisfying read.

Leslie McGrath, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ont.
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