Local author writes sensitive story about Japanese youngster moving to America

“Ayumi’s Violin” by local author Mariko Tatsumoto is an insightful book written for tweens and it also is totally engaging for anyone who admires good writing and enjoys a sensitive story about a youngster moving to America.

When her Japanese mother dies, Ayumi is 12. With financial help from her mother’s musician friends, she sails on a freighter to meet and live with her American father near Pasadena. He greets her with warmth and love. But he has a wife named Marilyn and another daughter named Brenda, age 10. These two are not at all welcoming. In fact, Marilyn is a racist and Brenda is spoiled and resentful of her new stepsister.

The story is sensitively and compassionately told from Ayumi’s point of view as she admires much about the U.S., especially having come from a very poor environment in a country where space is at a premium. She is amazed that her dad’s car “has a room of its own,” that “houses were so far apart that she’d have to shout at a neighbor to be noticed instead of being heard through thin walls …” and that she has a room of her own.

“Only the Emperor could have a room like this,” she mused.

But Ayumi feels like a misfit faced with unfamiliar customs. Even though she speaks English well, she faces outspoken prejudice, bullying and culture shock — in her home, in her neighborhood and at school. Without giving away the plot, it will be Ayumi’s talent in playing the violin that will move the story to its inspirational conclusion. Along the way, the author teaches life lessons in a sympathetic, unpatronizing way.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.


This story was posted on November 25, 2015.