About the Book:
About the Author:
Madame Butterfly, the famous opera by Puccini is the driving force behind Butterfly’s Child, the novel (the opera being based on a short story.) Ms. Davis-Gardner imagines the story behind the opera and presents it as it might have happened.
From the beginning there is a feeling of both despair and hope mixed into the writing. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a naval officer has his affair with Cio-Cio (Butterfly) and he leaves not knowing of the birth of his son. Butterfly sits waiting, knowing that he will return. He sends her money every month so he must care! When he does return though, it is on his honeymoon. In despair Butterfly sends a note to Frank and he arrives at her home to find her dead at her own hand with little Benji wailing. He and his wife decide to take the boy back to America and raise him as an orphan child they adopted while in Japan.
Frank arrives back in America to take over the family farm. Benji is not warmly welcomed into the community. His obvious mixed race leads to bullying from both children and adults as he grows up; only a few people people embrace him. He clings to the few reminders he has of a childhood he barely remembers.
Secrets never stay secrets forever and Benji’s comes out to the detriment of all involved. Benji leaves determined to go back “home” to Japan but he learns along the way that he does not fit in there any more than he fits in with his American family. He must forge his place in life as he searches for the family he was forced to leave.
This story of cultures clashing with an innocent child caught in the middle was well written and I found it hard to put down. Benji was an enterprising, enjoyable character. I was disappointed that his time in Japan and the ending seemed somewhat short changed compared to his time with his father in America. Once he finds his way to his place of birth the story seemed to lose its momentum. The detail so prevalent in the beginning was missing I suppose. Many questions were left unanswered so I do wonder if a sequel is planned and perhaps that is the reason.
It was overall a fascinating look at small town America and its attitude towards Japan at the end of the 19th century. Not to mention the city vs. farm social structures and attitudes.
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You can pre-order Butterfly’s Child on Amazon.com (release date: 4/10/12)
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Disclosure: I received a copy of Butterfly’s Child gratis from TLC Book Tours. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.