Sophie and the Rising Sun by Augusta Trobaugh
Salty Creek is a sleepy Georgia town where everyone knows everyone else's business. Strangers rarely enter their midst. When the mysterious Mr. Oto arrives in the spring of 1939, he immediately becomes the talk of the town.
A quiet, unassuming Japanese man with a secret history of his own, Mr. Oto meets Sophie soon after arriving in Salty Creek and immediately falls in love with her. Sophie, having lost her true love during World War I, spent her youth caring for her mother and maiden aunts. Now that they are gone, she has resigned herself to a lonely, passionless existence. That all begins to change as she finds herself drawn to Mr. Oto.
When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Mr. Oto's newfound life comes under siege and Sophie must decide how much she is willing to risk for a future with the man who has brought such joy into her life.
This was a quick read, but a very good one. There was the potential for the story to get quite dark and menacing and I'm very glad that it did not. I appreciated that is was a simple (and simply beautiful) story of a complex situation in a very complex time.
I liked Trobaugh's writing (I should have expected to with such a wonderfully constructed title) and particularly the dual perspectives of the narrators and what that added to the story.
As much as I liked Sophie and Mr. Oto, I think my favorite characters were Sally and Miss Anne. Sally because of her gumption and her ability both to forgive and to hold others accountable for what they'd done. Miss Anne because the parts not narrated by her revealed the imperfections that made her a full-bodied character (particularly her slight revisions of the story to make herself look better). I think the fact that I didn't completely hate the "bad" character by the book's ending says a good deal about Trobaugh's ability to both create believable characters and to convey nuance.