I Want to Go Home by Wesley Leon Aroozoo
Published by Math Paper Press
Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of this book c/o the author. Review and opinion is my own.
Summary: On the 11th of March, 2011, Yasuo Takamatsu lost his wife to the tsunami during the Great East Japan earthquake. Since that fateful day, he has been diving in the sea every week in search for her.
Compelled and inspired to share his story, I Want To Go Home is a journey from Singapore to Onagawa through the lens of the intrigued to meet him. Of unlikely friendships across borders and languages; to share a man’s loss, recovery and determination to reunite with his wife.
The novel’s feature film (also titled I Want To Go Home) has also been selected for the 2017 부산국제영화제 Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). This book also includes a Japanese translation by Miki Hawkinson.
Prior to reading this book, I didn’t actually know about this story. But I’m glad that the author contacted me and let me know about his book. I do feel that this story is one that should be shared. There’s a lot of things that we don’t necessarily know about the aftermath of a Tsunami. How deeply it affects people and how they’re holding up when the news don’t talk about them anymore. The laws, the court trials, the search — these are the things that sometimes get overshadowed by other news. But for these people who are affected, it is their life. They live through it, day in and day out.
What I like about this book is that its not very difficult to get into. Its a non fiction that reads a little bit like a fiction book, which is great, especially for people who don’t really read non fiction or are scared of non fiction books being boring. The book is essentially the author’s week, spending time with a Japanese man who is still in the search for his wife’s body. He dives everyday, with the hopes of finding her and bringing her home.
I liked the story. I think its entertaining, it teaches us a lot of things about the Tsunami, about how they prepare the citizens for a Tsunami, the protocols etc. But there’s a lot of how the author himself relates or makes sense of the whole situation. I feel like this could be a hit or miss with people — I’m kind of 50/50 about it myself. I think yes, its a good way for me to relate with how he feels as an interviewer. He wants to tell the story of how he felt, the places he went, the things he observed in detail and share it with us. But sometimes, it becomes too detailed that it derails away from the main story he wants to share. It can get a bit much.
I went into this with no expectations, though the main expectation is to learn more about Mr Takamatsu. And while I learnt bits and pieces about his story, his life, his wife, I found myself more intrigued with the final few parts. I was keen on learning to know more about the lawsuit, the evacuation plan, I wanted to see more research about safety plans, alerts. I thought those portions were important and interesting.
The book essentially is a documentary piece, about a journey, but I felt like there’s still so much I could learn about Mr Takamatsu and his life and his efforts. I would say that its a good non fiction, but it was hard to connect to the story on a deeper level.
The book touches the surface of love and loss in the midst of a disaster. A good read, suitable for those who are keen to read more non fiction books.