During World War II, Japanese prisoners of war broke out of the POW camp at Cowra, New South Wales, Australia. Most of them were killed, which was their intention, but one was captured by a 16-year-old boy who was out hunting rabbits. From this historical incident, Zillah Williams builds an intricately plotted novel of hatreds, haunting memories, poignant family relationships, shock, and forgiveness.
The title may be a bit unusual, but it is totally appropriated for the theme of the novel. "Tomodachi" is the Japanese word for "friend."
The novel's plot is too complex for summary, except to say that it is filled with the unexpected. But the unexpected nature of these events provides only part of the novel's reading pleasure. Zillah Williams wisely adopts a transparent style that lets each situation speak for itself in conveying its emotional content directly to the reader. And the scenes of the novel are loaded with emotional content. The result is an unusually intense reading experience that will leave readers well satisfied at the novel's denouement. I have rarely enjoyed a novel as much as I enjoyed this one, not only for a theme that applies as much today as it did in the historical time of the novel, but also for the author's skill in conveying that theme to readers of all ages. I recommend this novel highly for all serious readers.
Review by Donn Taylor, author of "Lightning on a Quiet Night," "Deadly Additive," etc.