Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: Air @artofstory

SERIES: Elemental Journey #2
AUTHOR: Caroline Allen
RELEASE DATE: October 11th 2015
PUBLISHER: Booktrope Editions
FORMAT: Paperback & ebook
SOURCE: complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review

Turbulence opens this second book in the Elemental Journey Series as Pearl Swinton, now in her twenties, uproots from the Midwest and flies to Tokyo, where she has no job, no friends, and no home, a place where she hopes to lie floating above the culture. But how will she survive with her mystical visions in a country so foreign from everything she knows? 
Pearl lands at a Jesuit mission and is magnetized to the ethereal missionary Usui. After she is forced to leave, she is thrown unprepared into the complicated world of Japanese culture and must learn to maneuver friendships, understand love, and balance the intensity of working at one of the city’s largest newspapers. When she stumbles upon Usui living as a homeless man, a journey begins that draws Pearl deep into Japan’s hidden homeless underworld. Having given up any connection to civilization to “find himself,” Usui brings Pearl face to face with her own homelessness and challenges her to begin the painful journey of understanding her visions and finding herself. In the end, hope flies on the paper wings of thousands of origami cranes. Pearl is called to her own mysticism, not just for herself, but for a world where the loss of magic may well be the real threat. A fundamentally radical work of art, Air tackles core issues facing individuals coming of age in today’s world. How can anyone feel safe and at home on a planet threatened by escalating violence and devastating climate change? Where, truly, is home?


Caroline Allen worked in newsrooms in Tokyo, London, and Seattle, and as a travel writer through Asia. She is now a novelist and visual artist who lives in Oregon. She is the founder of Art of Storytelling, a coaching service for writers.


'Air' is the story of Pearl and her journey to Japan. She decides to leave her hometown and take the risk of living in a strange land. With no friends, no job and minimum money to survive, she jumps into a plane despite some fears.

Her adventure in Japan is full of surprises, turns, and diverse people. She first meets Usui (a Jesuit missioner) who gives her a place to live. After a while, she lives and works with a Japanese-American girl and then finally she finds a job at a newspaper. There are many events in between but I'll leave you to read about them.

Pearl is a strange character. I wanted to like her but it was hard. She is trying to figure out her place in the world and her struggle is relatable. She is an outsider in a new land, where the culture is totally different to hers and she needs to figure out how to make it there. She has some qualities like her strength in hard moments and her empathy is a good trait. However, she is voluble to say the least. For moments, she isn't afraid of taking her life by the horns, but there are moments where she seems conformist and people do what they wish with her. Also, she has this visions and she doesn't know the reason behind them. I liked the narration of them, they had a poetic aura and are colorful.

The story, in general, is good and the plot is clear. The writing is flawless, the dialogues sound real and the rhythm is steady. I liked that the story is set in the eighties, I don't think this story would work in today's world with all the technology and massive communication.

For me, the book was difficult to read because the atmosphere is a bit dense for moments, I mean: there is a sensation of sadness and despair in the story that leaves the pages and submerges you in a dark mood. It's a good thing if you think about how powerful the author's words are but it's a bad thing if you ended up feeling a bit blue after reading it.

This is book two in a series. I didn't read the first book and I think that was one of the reasons I couldn't fully enjoy the story. I'm sure Pearl growing was notorious from book to book but I missed that evolution. Also, despite there are some references to events from the past, I would have liked to witness them to know her better.

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