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Rebel Housewife Reviews

Featuring response and reviews on anything and everything: mostly books; movies, kid stuff, and other life essentials, too. Rebel Reviews are (usually) not long and drawn out in tedious detail; not everything you ever wanted to know; not even terribly intellectual--just the basic info to encourage you to check it out, whatever it is, if it interests you too!

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This Week's Feature:


BOOKS: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

"Stunning and Tragic..."

by Jennifer Cody Epstein
(W. W. Norton & Company, 2013)

[Kindle & Trade Paperback, 400 pages, $15.95 U.S. - buy for less on]

Wow. Stunning and tragic, indeed.

I knew this book was not going to be a romance novel -- quite suddenly -- at the end of Chapter 3. (No spoilers: not a romance.) There are very few happy endings, but I guess that is to be expected, from a story set mostly in Japan, 1935 - 1945.

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is historical fiction, another WWII novel, but very different: WWII through the glass, darkly, from the perspective of characters, both American and Japanese, in Japan. It is a unique perspective on Japanese-American relations and interaction before, during and after The Day That Will Live In Infamy (December 7, 1941) and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945.

In a novel you can't put down, we follow the deeply interwoven stories of a young Japanese girl, Yoshi Kobayashi, and Billy Reynolds, an American young man born in Japan -- their two families connected by the fathers' construction projects in 1930s Tokyo -- and a brave Army Air Force pilot who participates in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942.

At times gut-wrenching, Jennifer Cody Epstein masterfully includes authentic details from painstaking research, and offers fascinating glimpses of historic figures and events. WWII, again, but with so many facets we never learned about in high school.

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is, in many ways, horrible, but brilliant. Epstein casts a haunting spell, this book will stay with you.

ALSO SEE the Rebel Review of Jennifer Cody Epstein's captivating earlier novel:
And a feature interview from 2008 on
Focus on the Author: Jennifer Cody Epstein