Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson


Why Snow Falling on Cedars and Mt. St. Helens

I chose this novel because it’s probably the most well-known novel to be set in Washington. It was a huge best seller when in 1994. I read it when it first came out, so it’s been awhile. I’m looking forward to rereading it as I remember liking it very much when I first read it. I had not known about the WWII Japanese internment camps in America until I read this novel. It’s a tragic part of our past that is underrepresented in history classes.

More About Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars is a 1994 award-winning novel written by American writer David Guterson. Guterson, who was a teacher at the time, wrote the book in the early morning hours over a ten-year period. Because of the success of the novel, however, he quit his job and began to write full-time. Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award. The book was adapted into a movie in 1999 starring Ethan Hawke.

San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.