I met Jennifer a few Salt Lake Comic Cons ago and she was just delightful. She was funny and engaging and she loved to talk about books. I had heard about her book, Big in Japan through my editor Penny Freeman months before. She recommended it and since I naturally do whatever my editor says, I read it.
I'm so glad I did!
I'm so glad I did!
It's a wonderful book.
Big in Japan tells the story of Buck Cooper, a Texan whose larger-than-life frame does not match his downtrodden personality. He's stuck in a dead-end job with a dead-end social life to match. As he awaits his company's decision on a possible job promotion, he decides--last minute--to join his parents on a business trip to Japan. Buck's father needs the trip to be successful for his business to continue. There's a lot riding on this business trip for the Cooper family. No one could have imagined how big that trip turned out to be.
If Buck were big in Texas, he was absolutely enormous in Japan. His towering height got him noticed everywhere he went. But it wasn't until he begins to begin to wrestle in the ancient art of sumo that things really get interesting.
Jennifer's sometimes sweet tale of a simple man already battling his insecurities at times turns dark, but not in a way that took me out of the story. It reminded me that the main character is dealing with a dangerous and potentially deadly world.
I admit I know nothing of sumo, but Jennifer gave me a feel for the life these athletes must endure. There's a love story, as well as battles between seemingly helpless victims and powerfully evil men. The book also put me into Buck's world, the world of someone who is big, how they look at themselves and the stereotypes with which society labels them. I did not expect this when I picked up the book, which was one of many little treasures contained within the pages.
Would I have enjoyed this book had I not met the author a couple of years ago? Probably, but getting to know her a little bit made the experience of reading that much better. Well done, Jenn!
* Photo used without permission from: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/098488016X?keywords=big%20in%20japan&qid=1446772222&ref_=sr_1_4&sr=8-4