Picking Bones from Ash is a wonderful story, containing mysteries and ghosts, ancient Buddhas and modern Japan, antiques and backpacking travellers. The story begins with Satomi, a spunky girl with a talent for music. Raised by her single mother, she isn't easily accepted in small town Japan. When her mother remarries, she feels abandoned. Not long after, she sets off to Paris to study music. There, she meets an intriguing westerner - Timothy Snowden. She becomes wrapped up in his life and eventually finds herself more at home in the West than the East. Later the story continues with her daughter, Rumi, who has a talent for reading objects - specifically Asian antiques - and makes a living in San Francisco as an antique dealer. One day she travels to Japan to seek her mother. The two womens' stories entwine and reflect one another.
The description of this book doesn't do it justice. I left this for last of all my reviews, and it turned out much more interesting than I expected. The sharp contrast between Part One and Part Two really took me by surprise and bothered me at the time - it felt so abrupt. But it was necessary to create a mystery. The author tied it all together by the end.
I can give this book no higher praise than saying that I gave up sleep to read it. You see, I have been reading while I feed my son during the night. Usually we are up three times a night. Reasonably, I should only read while he eats and then go back to bed. Instead, I would find myself continuing to read this book, while my son dreams away on my chest.