The Twisted Library — January 1, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Weathering the Storm


At the bottom of Japan’s southern Fog Island Mountains is the small town of Komachi. Within the town there are several “storms” gathering.  Michelle Bailat-Jones’s Fog Island Mountains is about the initial grief one feels when confronted with devastating news.

Jennifer Ikeda narrates Bailat-Jones’ novel in its moving audiobook version. Ikeda is an award-winning narrator of dozens of audiobooks and actor who brings much weight to the story. The experience of this audiobook is one that places you right in the story: in the car with Kanae, sitting and waiting with Alec, walking through the mountains with Azami. One can definitely feel a storm coming. 

Fog Island Mountains tells two interwoven stories: a man and his family dealing with a diagnosis of terminal cancer and an approaching summer typhoon. Alec is a South African expatriate who has been living in Komachi with his Japanese wife, Kanae, for the past forty years. After hearing this life-changing news, Alec is alone and waiting for his wife to return so they can discuss the future together. Kanae, however, is unable to confront this new and scary reality. As this is taking place, a massive typhoon is approaching the town and surrounding mountains. Soon, not only does the town have to find shelter, but they have to search for the missing Alec and Kanae, who have disappeared separately. The story is narrated by Azami, an elderly woman and peculiar inhabitant of Komachi, who is a mystery herself.

Each character goes through their own personal crisis while waiting for the summer’s biggest typhoon. However, I found Kanae to be a truly unlikable character. Kanae cannot face her husband’s diagnosis and doesn’t even visit him in the hospital. Instead, she traipses around town with an old flame, withholding the information that she is married. She is meant to be seen as having a meltdown as a result of her husband’s cancer, but she really comes off as weak and selfish.

Fog Island Mountains is a story about stages of grief, fear, and reconciliation.

Twisted Talk: Who do you turn to when faced with a problem?  Will you read Fog Island Mountains?  Discuss below!

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