• A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

  • A Novel
  • By: Jackie Copleton
  • Narrated by: Nancy Wu
  • Length: 11 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (377 ratings)

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A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

By: Jackie Copleton
Narrated by: Nancy Wu
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Publisher's Summary

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love.

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn't believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly 40 years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

©2015 Jackie Copleton (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting and original, but I wished for more

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is an interesting and original story about Amaterasu Takahashi, a Japanese woman who has lost her daughter and grandson in the bombing of Nagasaki. The novel moves back and forth between 1945, Amaterasu's life 40 years later, and her life in years prior to 1945. This novel is primarily about Amaterasu's life and how she set some events into motion long before the terrible events of August 9, 1945, and how the bombing in Nagasaki plays a life-defining part in her story. Some of the bomb blast descriptions are difficult to read, but that is certainly as it should be.

I personally would have enjoyed the story much more if there had been multiple protagonists so I could better understand the bombing and its horrendous effects from more than just Amaterasu's viewpoint. I wondered why Hiroshima wasn't mentioned at all, but this book did lead me to read more about Nagasaki and the cruel quirks of fate that led to the bombing. Quirks of fate, along with secrets and lies, figure largely in Ama's retelling. The secrets and lies that comprise much of the plot bordered on being unbelievable and contrived and were my least favorite parts. My favorite part was the way in which Copleton began each chapter with a Japanese-to-English translation of a unique Japanese word, one for which no English equivalent exists, but then gave a through explanation of what the word means in Japanese culture. The words and meanings were fascinating and added to a better understanding of Japan and its culture, a real dictionary of mutual understanding.

5 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!!!!

A beautifully written story that I could not quit listening to! The reader brought to this story to life!

3 people found this helpful

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Touching and amazing

This was such an amazing story. It was complex and suspenseful yet also tender. The reader was fabulous. I would recommend this book to everyone!

3 people found this helpful

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Exceptional

Phenomenal storytelling about a phenomenal time and place in wartime history: the atomic bomb devastation at Nagasaki. This historical fiction is beautifully written and utterly gripping. I learned so much about the Japanese culture throughout, especially the opening of every chapter defining a Japanese term or cultural more. For me it was ultimately about the story of the women of wartime: their various roles and depth of character and struggle and hope. This is a riveting story of mother and daughter, love and loss, and the moral ambivalence/destruction of duty and country and war. It is a profound experience of empathy and discovery as most of it is told through the reading of letters and diaries. Heartbreaking, while still delivering the human spirit of hope.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent.. beautifully written and spoken

Beautiful thought provoking story providing many revelations to me regarding the Japanese culture. If I were to express any criticism it would be my confusion with the names of the characters. Mistaking a name would confuse the story line for a minute however this was time well spent and I would recommend to anyone…

1 person found this helpful

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  • 09-05-21

this is one I will read over and over again!

beautiful, intelligent, insightful and thought-provoking. wonderful narration. this book is a keeper and a must read. it was included in my membership. it is a gem that I would otherwise probably not have read.

1 person found this helpful

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lots of unexpected twists!

This book was about so much more than I thought it was about when I started it. narrator was perfect for the part as well. loved it- highly recommend

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating

Nancy Wu, was wonderful in her narration.
This is a must read. The acceptance in the end was beautiful.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to follow but worth it

The story is told in first person but the person keeps changing and the timeline keeps changing jumping between early 1919, prewar, mid WWII and current day.
If you can keep track of who the story is coming from and where it lines up in the timeline it all wraps up very nicely.
The voices could have been changed to better differentiate the character.

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This was such a surprise!!! I LOVED this book!

With wonderful narration, heartbreaking descriptive text, and a beautiful, poignant story line with such a beautiful lesson- this book has become a new favorite, I will recommend to friends and family!