A friend writes, "I just finished The Girl in the Photo. I have so much to say about it, but I'll try to be articulate and succinct as I write about my reactions and feelings.
"First—congratulations on producing a novel of such subtly and complexity, one that weaves family life, travel, death, love—all into one well-crafted tapestry. This book is even better than the last one, which I enjoyed immensely.
"One major thing that I really like here is that you don't have to rely on pathology, violence or deviance to create an interesting story. Like the Barchester novels by Trollop (which I love), you manage to make happy people interesting.
"Of course, by happy I don't mean free of problems. I'm sure you understand that. It takes a lot of wisdom and humanity to take 'regular' folk and weave a great plot around them with all the insight and compassion that you do. I stayed up half the night a few days ago in order to finish it. The ending was SO satisfying.
"I especially like the way you balance the two main characters, Abbie and David, with neither predominating, so that the reader can see things from both their perspectives. I like the way you use the father's memoir, leaving it up to the reader to interpret the facts about his life by placing his story against those of the other people who knew him, and letting us get a fuller picture of his personality.
"I like the way you so delicately handle the American-Japanese cultural issues—with just enough explanation so that the average American reader can sense some of the important differences. AND I like your description of life and values of the '50's while deftly switching to the 21st century.
"I like the political commentary and the way you touch on religion, music and atheism. Well, the list goes on."