Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng is set in 1939 on the Malayan island of Penang. Philip Hutton is the teen son of one of Penang's top trading families.  He is half-Chinese and half-English, and therefore feels like an outcast in both his family and community.  Philip meets Endo, a Japanese diplomat, and finds a friend and teacher in the art of aikido.  When Philip later discovers that Endo is a Japanese spy, he also realizes that he has helped the Japanese in their invasion of Malaya and has unknowingly become a traitor.

There are so many things that I loved about this book.  Philip reveals his history to Michiko, a woman who loved Endo before he went to Penang.  Michiko gave a glimpse of another side of Endo.  Michiko's character added a lot to the emotion of the story although she played a small part in the plot.  This book was also a great lesson in history, which I love.

I never really grew to like Endo or understand why Philip was so devoted to him.  I didn't feel for Endo, and I know that I was supposed to.  So much of what Philip did seemed meaningless because of Endo.  For this reason I would rate this book a 4/5 instead of a solid 5.

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