Inspired by true events, All Sorrows Can Be Borne is the story of Noriko Ito, a Japanese woman faced with unimaginable circumstances that force her to give up her son to save her husband.
Set in Hiroshima, Osaka, and the badlands of eastern Montana and spanning the start of World War II to 1982, this breathtaking novel is told primarily in the voice of Noriko, a feisty aspiring actress who fails her audition to enter the Takarazuka Theater Academy. Instead, she takes the “part” of a waitress at a European-style tearoom in Osaka where she meets the mysterious and handsome manager, Ichiro Uchida. They fall in love over music and marry. Soon after Noriko becomes pregnant during their seaside honeymoon, Ichiro is diagnosed with tuberculosis destroying their dreams.
Noriko gives birth to a healthy baby boy, but to give the child a better life, Ichiro convinces her to give the toddler to his older sister and her Japanese-American husband, who live in Montana. Noriko holds on to the belief that this inconceivable sacrifice will lead to her husband’s recovery. What happens next is unexpected and shocking and will affect Noriko for the rest of her life.
Eighteen years later, her son enlists in the U.S. Navy and is sent to Japan. Finally, he is set to meet his birth mother, but their reunion cracks open the pain and suffering Noriko has endured.
With depth and tenderness, All Sorrows Can Be Borne is a harrowing and beautifully written novel that explores how families are shaped by political and economic circumstances, tremendous loss and ultimately forgiveness.
Inspired by true events, ALL SORROWS CAN BE BORNE by Loren Stephens (Rare Bird Books Hardcover; May 11, 2021)
is the story of Noriko Ito, a Japanese woman faced with unimaginable circumstances that force her to give up her son to
save her husband. Stephens explains the inspiration and research involved in her writing:
“I wrote this book to better understand why my husband’s Japanese birth parents gave him up for adoption to his aunt and uncle in Glendive, Montana, not knowing if they would ever see their son again. Their sacrifice ‘to give him a better life’ led to unimaginable tragedy. I spent years conducting background research about the bombing of Hiroshima, the events of World
War II and the rebuilding of Japan as well as the immigration policies between the US and Japan, which set up roadblocks to my husband’s parents’ intention. Together with his adoptive mother, I went to Japan to meet with his birth mother, still living in Osaka, and we spent many days discussing my book. Since there were several people who were no longer alive including my husband’s birth father and some of the events were difficult to remember, I took a leap of faith and turned the book into a novel so that I could imagine what might have happened. I had to rely on instinct and creativity to craft a novel that is inspired by a true story, but reflects the freedom of a writer. I was no longer bound by facts and figures, which is the toolbox I draw from when writing memoirs for others as their ghostwriter (my day job).”
An Awesome Story. Tenderly Told!
Such a touching tale .. and all the more poignant as it’s based on a true story.
Beginning at the time the nuclear bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, we meet Noriko, just a child at the time. Following her through her life we learn about her career ambitions, her romantic life and where life takes her and those she loves.
What a story! Beautifully told in a gentle, tender manner befitting the Japanese culture. As with most of our lives, Noriko has happy moments and absolutely devastating ones and there is a great deal of heartbreak in these pages but, like most of us, she has no other choice but to pick herself up and carry on through each day as best she can. With Japanese relatives, this was of particular interest to me and it is utterly fascinating but also a calamitous tale and every mother reading this will shudder at the hard choices Noriko is faced with. This is written with heart and understanding and really is an awesome read. My only criticism would be that the blurb gives everything away – luckily I don’t read that before beginning but I can imagine that anyone doing so finds it disappointing. A very appealing – but sorrowful tale – and one I’m happy to give 4*.
My thanks to Rachel Tarlow Gul of Over the River PR both for my copy of this novel and my spot on this blog tour; this is – as always – my honest, original and unbiased review.
Tags: family, historical fiction
- Format: ebook, hardcover, audiobook
- Size: 416 pages
- Publisher: Rare Bird Books
- Publication Date: 11 May 2021
- Book Links:
Loren Stephens is a widely published essayist and fiction and nonfiction storyteller. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, MacGuffin, the Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, The Forge Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Lunch Ticket’s Amuse Bouche series, The Write Launch, The Summerset Review, The Montreal Review, and Tablet travel magazine to name a few. She is a two-time nominee of the Pushcart Prize and the book Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Review, by Cliff Simon with Loren Stephens was named one of the best titles from an independent press by Kirkus Book Reviews. She is president and founder of the ghostwriting companies, Write Wisdom and Bright Star Memoirs. Prior to establishing her company, Loren was a documentary filmmaker.
Among her credits are Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist with on camera narration by Burt Lancaster,
produced for PBS and nominated for an Emmy Award; Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman? produced for
Coronet Films and recipient of a Golden Apple from the National Education Association; and Los
Pastores: The Shepherd’s Play produced for the Latino Consortium of PBS and recipient of a Cine Gold
Eagle and nominated for an Imagen Award. She is a member of the Regional Board of the AntiDefamation League; a member of its Deborah Awards Committee for Outstanding Women; and a member
of Greenlight Women, an organization of women in the entertainment industry who serve as mentors. For
more information visit https://writewisdom.com/.
- Website: https://lorenmstephens.com/
- Twitter: @lorenstephensWW