In early 1938 Stephan is ill and leaves Hong Kong for Tarumi where he stays in his parents’ seaside Japanese house to recuperate. At first, he feels isolated in the village and finds Matsu who tends to his needs, too reserved, but as his health improves so does his relationship with Matsu. While he swims in the sea or paints, Stephan-san grows concerned as Japan invades China and its armies rampage south. But he forgets these worries when Matsu introduces him to his friend, Sachi who lives in Yamaguchi, a mountainside village for lepers. As the year draws to a close, is it safe for Chinese to remain in Japan? Will he be able to part from the close relationships he’s formed with Matsu and Sachi?
In the 1500s in Morocco, Mustafa ibn Muhammad is a kind older brother to his twin brothers and a successful merchant. But when he loses his position due to difficult times, he is forced to sell himself into slavery so that his mother and brothers will not starve. After several years he becomes part of an expedition to New Spain (today’s Southern U.S.A.) led by de Narvaez who plans to capture the land for the Spanish crown and become as famous as Cortes. But once they land in New Florida starvation and disease force the contingent to steal and plunder whatever they can from Indian tribes. Within a year only four have survived: Mustafa (who was reassigned a new name — Estebanico), his master, Dorantes, Cabeza de Vaco and Castillo. Will they ever be able to return to their native countries or will they too, die from disease or at the hands of Indians? This is a fascinating account seen through the eyes of Mustafa/Estebanico a desperate survivor who only hopes for his freedom from bondage.
In the deep south, twins, Desiree and Stella grow up in a small country town obsessed with whiteness. They could pass for white, but their family has a long black history connected to the foundation of the settlement. When the twins witness the brutal murder of their father at the hands of a mob of white men who storm their house, Stella has nightmares. This memory haunts her so that in their teenage years, the twins run away to New Orleans. In the room they share over the next couple of years, Desiree finds a note — Stella has packed and left. Where has she gone? And what will Desiree do once she realizes that the man she marries several years later is becoming more violent?
Angie Kim — Miracle Creek*****
The Yoo’s business is burnt down — Miracle Submarine that offered oxygen therapy to autistic children. The night of the fire, Elizabeth set her son, Henry under the oxygen helmet that later burst into flames. It’s the first time she never sits in the chamber with Henry during the treatment. Instead, she lazes under a tree with a bottle of wine not far away. When she’s arrested for murder of her son and her friend Kitt whom she’d argued with, everyone is convinced she’s guilty. A Camel cigarette resulted in the fire and there are people who were there that night hiding that they smoke that brand. Young Yoo discovers her husband’s lies and grows suspicious. Janine uncovers lies her husband, Matt told her in connection with the Yoo’s daughter, Mary, and he in turn finds out she’s lied to him.
Was Elizabeth at breaking point from looking after an autistic son? Did the Paks set fire to their own business to claim the insurance money? Or was it one of the protestors demonstrating that the business be shut down? This gripping novel takes place mainly in a court room where the facts and lies are exposed and the real culprit is anyone’s guess.