Love in Translation by Wendy Tokunaga

Stuck.  That’s how 33-year-old aspiring singer Celeste Duncan feels, with her deadbeat boyfriend and static career. But then Celeste receives a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, which just might be the first real clue to the identity of the father she never knew. Impulsively, Celeste flies to Japan to search for a long-lost relative who could be able to explain. She stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars.

With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste’s family, she discovers she’s developing “more-than-sisterly” feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mom scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, Celeste begins to wonder whether she’s made a terrible mistake in coming to Japan. Can Celeste find her true self in this strange land, and discover that love can transcend culture? (

I started reading, Love in Translation, right after I had finished, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford.  It seemed like an appropriate segue since in the previous book I learned so much about Japanese families and their culture. The author, Wendy Tokunaga, sent me a copy to read. Not really knowing what to expect – I did do my research though on the book – I found I truly enjoyed the storyline, the characters, particularly Celeste’s journey, the mystery surrounding the search for her Aunt’s sister, and the possibility of finding the identity of her father.

How scary it would be to take off for unfamiliar parts in pursuit of one’s heritage but I thought Celeste grabbed the bull by the horns. She was eager to fit in and persevere what obstacles came her way.  There were some funny incidents for Celeste in addition to moments which brought me to tears.

I would recommend this heartwarming story to readers who enjoy books that deal with relationships, cultures, and ultimately – finding yourself. Love in Translation should be a novel book clubs on the whole would embrace because of the discussions it would bring about.

Thank you to Wendy Tokunaga for sharing her wonderful story with me! I’ll be anxiously awaiting her next creation!

Happy Reading!



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2 responses to “Love in Translation by Wendy Tokunaga

  1. sounds interesting,must read,thanks for the review.

  2. Kathy

    Hi Nicole,
    It was a copy the author sent to me. As you can tell by my review, I enjoyed reading it! Give it a try!

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