When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji’s true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha—and instead tells everyone that he is an orphan. When the truth surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic and send Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother’s tragic death.
Triple bonus points if you recognized the main characters of Madame Butterfly in the above description. For those not familiar with Puccini's opera, like me, you will quickly be brought up to speed with a helpful summary contained in the preface. From there the tale of young Benji takes off with a unique coming of age story that spans two continents. In the face of harsh and unyielding conditions, Benji's spirit never wanes. Author Davis-Gardner's extensive knowledge of Japan - its customs, history, and people- is apparent, as she enhances the opera's imagined aftermath with a sly and well placed wink at the original. And it is quite a balancing act - taking characters from one art form and developing them in another - with a risk that pays off as the extension seems natural and believable. I found the unflinching portrayal of the Pinkertons' and the consequences for their poor choices to be particularly genuine. A couple minor blips with a bit too much coincidental good fortune on Benji's travels and some other loose ends occur so far into the story they can almost be overlooked. The pace is brisk but not hurried, which makes for an engrossing read. Butterfly's Child defies easy categorization but is a wonderfully rich continuation of a celebrated classic, with a twist.
thanks to the sweet ladies at TLC Book Tours for the review copy
visit the author's website here: http://www.angeladavisgardner.com
for more reviews check the blog tour schedule here: TLC Book Tours