Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata

‘Losing Kei’, was my first stab at some holiday reading.
After a rocky start, I was completely swept up in it, couldn’t put it down.
I think the rocky start was probably due to it not quite being what I expected. Most books I have read by ex-pats in Japan go in for the descriptive passages, ‘the emerald of the wakame’, etc. Not so this book, it jumps straight to the characters.
There was a little confusion on my part when it jumped around between past and present, but that is mostly because I didn’t bother reading what year it was at the top of the chapter.
I was riveted not least because what happened to the main character, has in the past struck fear into my heart. what a lot of people might not know, is that in Japan , when an international marriage breaks down, if there is a custody battle, the child WILL be awarded to the Japanese parent, because, well because they are Japanese. It doesn’t matter if your husband beat you, drank you into bankruptcy, cheated, whatever, if he is the sole Japanese parent he will get the kids. there is no shared custody, the other parent is more often than not just pushed out, ignored, never to see the kids again.

By the end I was completely in pieces, Kamata did a great job on the pain and grief of the mother, the lengths she’d go to to catch a glimpse of her growing son, and especially the pain of knowing that not only was he without her, his mother, but he wasn’t being raised in a very loving or healthy environment either.

I would be interested to hear how the book is received by readers who are not in international marriages and have no intimate knowledge of the fear of losing your kids in the event of a divorce.

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