I just finished reading Mako Yoshikawa's second novel, Once Removed, and was just delighted at the layers of craft at work in this convoluted story of step-sisters and their relationships over time. Skillful and moving, the story shows effective use of:
--multiple points of view, changing each chapter
--inner dialogue balanced well with vivid description of action and perceptions and reactions. Example: "She recognized him right away. He was standing toward the back of the crowd . . . . Her realization of this simple fact was like a jolt of energy, like three meals and a restful night's sleep in a bed rolled into one" (129)."
--Key concrete images used throughout the story come home in the conclusion to link tightly to the theme, and more than one theme is revealed and resolved satisfactorily, but in a way that gives the reader the sense these characters will continue to live on and grow.
--Characters add depth through revelations, but each character does not know what others know, and the emotional depth comes through clearly as key events are gradually revealed.
--Language is used with precision, with one thread being puns and one character limited in language.
--The story does not back away from large issues, cancer, adultry, Hiroshima, yet puts them in human scale through stories within stories.
Overall rating: A