Above the East China Sea (Paperback)
A Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
Okinawa, present day: Luz, a teenage military brat, has moved to the island’s U.S. Air Force base with her mother, a no-nonsense sergeant. Luz’s mother hopes that the move will reconnect them with the Okinawan branch of their family—and help them heal from the death of Luz’s beloved older sister.
This is an island where departed spirits mingle with the living, and interwoven with Luz’s narrative is the story of an Okinawan girl, Tamiko Kokuba, who in 1945 was plucked from her high school and trained to work in the Imperial Army’s horrific cave hospitals. Both of these extraordinary young women are seeking peace, and as Luz digs deeper and deeper into her past, their quests will intersect. Above the East China Sea tells the entwined stories of two lives connected across time by the shared experience of loss, the strength of an ancient culture, and the power of family love.
About the Author
Sarah Bird, winner of the 2014 Texas Writer Award and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great Writers pick, is the author of The Yokota Officers Club and eight other novels. She grew up on air force bases around the world and now makes her home in Austin, Texas. She is a columnist for Texas Monthly and has contributed to other magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine; The New York Times Magazine; Salon; and Real Simple.
“A stunning account of wartime Okinawa. . . . Wise and sensitive.” —Anthony Marra, San Francisco Chronicle
“Extraordinary. . . . A major display of literary talent—an absolutely don’t-miss novel.” —The Washington Times
“Richly rewarding. . . . Finely wrought.” —Chicago Tribune (Editor's Choice)
“Bird’s fine novel suggests that . . . ancient beliefs can still provide comfort and connection in a modern world.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Engaging, haunting, and illuminating. . . . A unique tale of friendship that defies time and space. . . . Poignant and deeply memorable.” —The Daily Beast
“Compelling. . . . Bird deftly captures the unique, era-appropriate voice of each girl. . . . Revelations are at once heartbreaking and uplifting, and reinforce an Okinawan expression uttered by many of Birds’ unforgettable characters: ‘Nuchi du takara.’ Life is the treasure.” —The Seattle Times
“A moving dual coming-of-age story.” —Marie Claire
“This is the rare tome that has the goods for both popular and critical acclaim at the highest level. . . . After this book, Bird should be a literary household name.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Revelatory.” —Reader’s Digest
“Gripping. . . . This tale of how women and girls survive bloody times manages its happy ending without offering easy answers—quite a feat for such an entertaining read.” —The Austin Chronicle
“To my mind, Bird is the finest living Texas novelist, and Above the East China Sea showcases all of her gifts in spades—her unmistakable voice displays warmth, wit, and that rare variety of irreverence that possesses real heart.” —Robert Leleux, The Texas Observer
“[Bird] has penned elegiac novels of tremendous depth and richness. . . . [Her] latest—Above the East China Sea, a return to her military-brat youth in Asia—may be her best.” —San Antonio Express-News
“Fascinating. . . . Above the East China Sea provides welcome context to the news reports from an island whose pivotal place in global power politics remains mostly unexamined.” —BookPage
“[Has] immense teen appeal. . . Teens will be turning pages quickly.” —School Library Journal
“An extraordinary novel. . . . Intermingles past and present young adult lives, with entertaining banter plus a touch of the supernatural. . . . A gratifying read. Highly recommended.” —Historical Novel Society
“Readers won’t soon forget Tamiko’s searing depiction of her experiences during the Battle of Okinawa. . . . A multilayered and utterly involving work.” —Booklist
“A rich and engrossing achievement. . . . A suspenseful and magical journey.” —Library Journal
“Fascinating. . . . Ambitious and rewarding. . . . [A] powerful sense of history and place.” —Publishers Weekly