We’re happy to announce a special opportunity to pre-order signed, personalized copies
of Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird, bestselling author of The Yokota Officers Club and eight other novels.
BookPeople is the only bookstore in the country fulfilling orders for signed, personalized copies of Above the East China Sea in advance of the book’s release date. We ship worldwide.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Set on the island of Okinawa today and during World War II, this deeply moving and evocative novel tells the entwined stories of two teenage girls-an American and an Okinawan-whose lives are connected across 70 years by the shared experience of both profound loss and renewal.
“Above the East China Sea is Sarah Bird’s most powerful novel yet. This tour de force of historical imagination cuts between the bloody, beleaguered Okinawa of 1945 and its seemingly peaceful incarnation in the present time. But the island is far from peaceful; beneath the surface of things, war continues to roil and trouble this profoundly damaged place. By interweaving the stories of two young women separated by time and culture, Bird has given us a profoundly moving meditation on war, family, love, and what might be waiting for us on the other side of loss.”
Winner of 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award finalist
“Sarah Bird, a brilliant and accomplished novelist, has topped herself with this uncommonly powerful, beautifully rendered novel. Above the East China Sea is a compelling tale of love, loss, and the desperate search for closure, wrapped in a gripping mystery that must be worked out against the backdrop of a fascinating culture that is as little known to Americans as it is important. This book rings true on all its levels. From the stresses of a military family to the banter of American teens. From the power of an ancient culture to the tragedy of war and its aftermath. This story is unlike any I’ve read before. I will never think of Okinawa, or war, or belonging, in the same way again. Above the East China Sea will stay with me forever.”
Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortre
“Bird uses distinct voices to weave her narrative. Luz’s voice convincingly captures a smart but troubled contemporary teen, while Tamiko’s voice reflects her place in a very different culture. Readers won’t soon forget Tamiko’s searing depiction of her experiences during the Battle of Okinawa, when more than one-third of the local population was killed or committed suicide. Links between the two girls, hinted at early on, crystallize as Luz’s quest to learn more about her ancestors takes her deeper into the past and into traditions that still exert a hold on daily Okinawan life. Bird, whose other novels include the well-received The Yokota Officers Club, has delivered a multilayered and utterly involving work with plenty of grist for book discussions.”
“At once a history lesson, a suspenseful and magical mystery, and YA-level romance, this is a rich and engrossing achievement; a testament both to the sacrifices of the “Himeyuri Corps” of teenaged nurses during World War II and the modern military family. VERDICT Austinite and former “base kid” Bird (The Gap Year) presents the two girls’ distinct voices honestly and compellingly. Crossover potential abounds here-meticulously researched historical fiction, YA appeal, a contemporary tale of military life, and an exploration of folklore. Fans of Amy Tan and of Khaled Hosseini will be drawn to the adept mingling of settings and cultures, while the mystery elements evoke the fiction of Alice Sebold. Jennifer B. Stidham.”
“The devastating Battle of Okinawa looms large in the lives of two young women-one who lived through the carnage, another who is absorbing its spiritual aftereffects. Bird’s braided narrative . . . is rich with detail on Okinawan religious lore about lost souls. Tamiko’s and Luz’s narratives make for interesting tonal counterpoints to each other. Tamiko’s story is foursquare and mordant, focused as it is on war’s devastation; Bird writes potently of her being thrust into the role of a Princess Lily girl, a young nursing assistant helping the demoralized Japanese soldiers. Luz’s story is no less concerned with loss, but it’s lighter on its feet, making room for her comic banter with friends and a growing crush on one of her new Okinawan acquaintances. . . Bird sensitively connects her two sharp narrators. An admirable study of war’s impact on and legacy in an underdiscussed place.”
“Set in Okinawa with heroines who live seven decades apart, Bird’s ambitious and rewarding novel offers a fascinating glimpse of the Pacific island. . . Bird (The Yokota Officer’s Club), herself an “Army brat,” invests the narrative with psychological veracity and effectively contrasts brusque military lingo with the islanders’ lyrical expressions. . . balanced by the powerful sense of history and place.”