In June 2001 Rahna Reiko Rizzuto went to Hiroshima in search of a deeper understanding of her war-torn heritage. She planned to spend six months there, interviewing the few remaining survivors of the atomic bomb. A mother of two young boys, she was encouraged to go by her husband, who quickly became disenchanted by her absence.
It is her first solo life adventure, immediately exhilarating for her, but her research starts off badly. Interviews with the hibakusha* feel rehearsed, and the survivors reveal little beyond published accounts. Then the attacks on September 11 change everything. The survivors’ carefully constructed memories are shattered, causing them to relive their agonizing experiences and to open up to Rizzuto in astonishing ways.”
That was enough to make me want to read it, but there is more.
Separated from family and country while the world seems to fall apart, Rizzuto’s marriage begins to crumble as she wrestles with her ambivalence about being a wife and mother. Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are.”
Hiroshima in the Morning started out really slow for me and frankly, Reiko’s constant questioning of herself and her motives for taking trip was a tad annoying. Seriously, she is a published author and a mother of two, how could she have been so insure of herself and her identity?
Slowly, I felt a change in her thinking and that brought about a change in my opinion. While 9/11 made a big impact in how the people she was interviewing treated her, I could also see her true identity emerging. Truly, it was like watching a butterfly come out of a cocoon and I hate butterfly analogies, so I don’t use them lightly. She began to stand up for herself and what she wanted, not just go along with the flow or try to placate her husband.
The book is less about Hiroshima or 9/11 and more about a woman defining herself. Call it a self-exploration or a memoir while horrific events are being studied and still happening in the background.
I could go on and on about what stuck with me and made me think. She has an interesting way of looking at things and processing them in her own mind, as well as dealing with so much inner turmoil at a time that our country as a whole was in flux.
Hiroshima in the Morning is a book that will float around in my mind for a long time, not only for what she wrote, but because how she made me look back at my own memories, questioning how I let them define me….if I choose to let them define me at all.
From Hiroshima in the Morning….
“I spent the last seven months assembling. Making a life collage, and hoping that, if I step back far enough, if others do, an image will appear. There are a million facts, a million stories: every writer will find a different one in the same rubble. Each of us will reconceive the story. We will build an argument; we will raise a truth. It may not resemble “the truth,” if there is such a thing-we may mistake someone else’s opinion for fact; we may be lying or hoping for the best.”
Hiroshima in the Morning by Rhana Reiko Rizzuto
For info on the author, a trailer, & much more check out The Feminist Press
Just released today!
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (September 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1558616675
- ISBN-13: 978-1558616677