Set in Hiroshima, Osaka, and the badlands of eastern Montana and spanning the start of World War II to 1982, this breathtaking novel is told primarily in the voice of Noriko, a feisty aspiring actress who fails her audition to enter the Takarazuka Theater Academy. Instead, she takes the “part” of a waitress at a European-style tearoom in Osaka where she meets the mysterious and handsome manager, Ichiro Uchida. They fall in love over music and marry. Soon after Noriko becomes pregnant during their seaside honeymoon, Ichiro is diagnosed with tuberculosis destroying their dreams.
(Pictured: Hiroshima, 1945)
Noriko gives birth to a healthy baby boy, but to give the child a better life, Ichiro convinces her to give the toddler to his older sister and her Japanese-American husband, who live in Montana. Noriko holds on to the belief that this inconceivable sacrifice will lead to her husband’s recovery. What happens next is unexpected and shocking and will affect Noriko for the rest of her life.
(Pictured: Takarazuka Theatre Troupe)
Eighteen years later, her son enlists in the U.S. Navy and is sent to Japan. Finally, he is set to meet his birth mother, but their reunion cracks open the pain and suffering Noriko has endured.
With depth and tenderness, ALL SORROWS CAN BE BORNE is a harrowing and beautifully written novel that explores how families are shaped by political and economic circumstances, tremendous loss and ultimately forgiveness.
(Pictured: Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan)
Inspired by true events, ALL SORROWS CAN BE BORNE by Loren Stephens is the story of Noriko Ito, a Japanese woman faced with unimaginable circumstances that force her to give up her son to save her husband. Stephens explains the inspiration and research involved in her writing:
“I wrote this book to better understand why my husband’s Japanese birth parents gave him up for adoption to his aunt and uncle in Glendive, Montana, not knowing if they would ever see their son again. Their sacrifice ‘to give him a better life’ led to unimaginable tragedy. I spent years conducting background research about the bombing of Hiroshima, the events of World War II and the rebuilding of Japan as well as the immigration policies between the US and Japan, which set up roadblocks to my husband’s parents’ intention.
"Together with his adoptive mother, I went to Japan to meet with his birth mother, still living in Osaka, and we spent many days discussing my book. Since there were several people who were no longer alive including my husband’s birth father and some of the events were difficult to remember, I took a leap of faith and turned the book into a novel so that I could imagine what might have happened. I had to rely on instinct and creativity to craft a novel that is inspired by a true story, but reflects the freedom of a writer. I was no longer bound by facts and figures, which is the toolbox I draw from when writing memoirs for others as their ghostwriter (my day job).”