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Publisher's Summary

As a Japanese-American fisherman stands trial for murder on an island in Puget Sound, snow blankets the countryside. The whiteness covers the courthouse, but it cannot conceal the memories at work inside: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, an unrequited love, and the ghosts of racism that still haunt the islanders. First novels rarely attract as much attention as Snow Falling on Cedars. Remaining on best seller lists for months, it has cast a spell on listeners across the country.

©1994 David Guterson (P)1996 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Snow Falling on Cedars

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unforgettable. Masterful. Remarkably creative.

I can't imagine any reader not liking this book. Mr. Guterson has created a masterpiece, and George Guidall reads it with his usual style, warmth and aplomb. The plot is dense but easy to follow, as it is unique in its setting, relationships among the primary characters, and interweaving of several intensely involving stories. It is set in the Pacific Northwest, on a small island that is a fishing village and home to many strawberry farms, virtually all of them personal rather than corporate. It is not true that everyone knows everyone, because the book is set about ten years after World War II, and the split between the Japanese populace and the Americans is wide and deep. The plot involves the death or murder of a fisherman on his boat, late at night, fishing for salmon and anything else that gets caught in the net. The alleged killer is a Japanese fisherman who seems to be a thoroughly good man, with a loving family and absolutely no history of any kind of trouble. However, the hatred between the two factions of people runs so deep that the murder trial is the event of the century for the residents. The plot switches from the present, which includes the trial and many other, smaller events, and WWII, in which the Japanese were "interned," which is to say, put in prisons with no gas chambers but no resemblance of a normal life. There is also a brief view of the hostilities of the war.
I loved this book. I loved George Guidall's performance. The writing is so good that the book won many prizes when it was published at the end of the 20th century. Mr. Guterson had written two novels by this time, the first one called East of the Mountain. I read this book with my eyes. I can't recommend the audio version of it. The book is completely different from this one, so different that it is hard to see one author creating two so different stories, with both of them being just great literary accomplishments.
Snow falling on Cedars was made into a movie, which I did not see. Just as well, as the movie people would have had to cut out so much great stuff that I would have felt a bit cheated. One rule about great writing is that the author really must love his characters. Mr. Guterson clearly loves his characters, and we are all the richer for that love. I recommend this book to you with no reservations. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

108 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Historical Novel

An immersive story with vivid description. Snow Falling on Cedars presents the sentiments felt for Japanese Americas after WWII and the difficulties they faced in their own country. The book reads and feels modern even though it takes place after the second world war. It doesn't seem outdated and the characters and their emotions are engaging. It sometimes takes me a bit to ramp up into a George Guidall narration but he always delivers in the end. Certainly a great modern novel.

50 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful!!!

Have listened to books since they first came out on cassette tapes, probably since the middle 1985’s. I have M.S. and reading is a problem. I am so grateful who developed the records, cassettes, CDs and sending books straight to my iPhone !!

George Guidall and Frank Mueller are my favorite artists to bring a book alive.

I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve listened to Snow Falling on Cedars. I was born 02/02/1946. The book is very revelant to me as I grew up in Leland Mi where we lived a block from Lake Michigan. North and South Manitou islands were 11 miles away. We also had cherry migrant workers. It Is such a tender and lovely story. It is in my top 10 favorite books. It has lots of twists and turns so you do not want to put the book or in my hit the stop button. I would recommend it to all my friends baby boomers or not. Thank you Mr. Guterson and God bless your future books!!!
Patty Bach
This my normal signature
🎄(joy Johann father deceased son JAMES
💝(love Lucille my mother
🕊(peace Petersen my maiden name
🎄💝🕊

112 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

5-star listen with excellent story & narration

I was a child and too young to have read this when it came out 25 years ago, and I'm so glad I got to listen to it now. George Guidall is a wonderful narrator although sometimes I have to warm-up to him on a new book. This is his best performance that I've heard. He somehow manages to capture the understated poignant nature of this book and he differentiates the characters without any distracting accents.

Snow Falling on Cedars is a character-driven mystery and courtroom drama, insofar as that's possible. The court sections are well done (and I say this as an attorney myself). I usually dislike stories with court scenes bc I find myself cringing through them, since judges would disallow most of what you see in trials in TV/ film/ fiction. Suffice it to say, there's a big difference in how our judicial system unfolds in reality (where it's 99% paperwork & process and 1% drama) vs what's portrayed in legal entertainment. But in this book it's handled well bc the author cuts away from the courtroom scenes and tells the story of each witness's life in close 3rd person perspective, thereby giving you a more thorough view than you could get in a realistic witness examination which would be quite limited.

The story is moving and insightful, but understated. I think you get more out of this book if you've lived a few years. If I'd read it as a teen, I might not have picked up on a lot of the themes. On its face, the book is about a trial of a Japanese-American man accused of murdering a white fisherman. The story is also about community, family, patriotism and love in all its flavors.

Side note: Please disregard the absurd review claiming there are "unnecessary sex scenes." I've listened to this book twice and there are no unnecessary scenes. The main characters do sleep together on their WEDDING NIGHT, so let this serve as a trigger warning if that'll upset you (lol). That scene is important for their characterization, and it's only a few tasteful sentences. Personally, I loved it. If you don't like the word "hard" to characterize male anatomy during sex, then what alternative do you prefer? Firm or rigid? Do you want authors to call male anatomy by nicknames like "winky"? Or slang? Or medical terms? I don't get it. Love and sex are big parts of most people's lives, especially adults with families like those in this story, so it'd be incomplete if the author omitted the characters' sexuality. If the few sentences about sex are what a reader recalls from nearly 16hr of this award-winning novel, then he/ she has issues with sex unrelated to this book. This story is about war, death, love and a murder trial. If you're in a phase where your mindset is "eww boys are icky" then you're not mature enough to be consuming this material. If you're an adult who likes complex fiction, you'll love this book.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Terrific natation

A good story but unsure why all the reviews raved about this book. I found myself drifting often and would have to rewind. Not a bad book just not terrific

24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Such a great book

Wonderfully written book and loved the narrator. I have written so many passages from this book that I want to remember. My favorite was, .."He loved humankind dearly and with all his heart, but he disliked most human beings."

20 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommend. A moving & compelling story.

Great story. Excellent high-quality writing & reading performance. Suspenseful & compelling page turner. I very much enjoyed this book! Highly recommended.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

There was a good story in there but marred by unimportant irrelevant details

The pace of the book didn’t bother me until the end. About 3 hours before the end (I listened to the audiobook) I was thinking how long can he really drag this out? But really, too much sex. Not important or even slightly relevant to the story.

77 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

If I hear the word “hardness” one more time

I thought this was a good story, and the author’s writing was for the most part enjoyable. But if I hear the word “hardness” one more time outside of joking about this book I think I might wretch. The sex scenes were completely awful, disgusting really, and usually unnecessary for the story. Also, the redundancies and draggingly slow back and forth of the attorneys and witnesses almost always similarly made me yell, “Get on with it!” I just wanted to know how the story ended! Finally, after a few too many slow court scenes and entirely too many masturbation descriptions, a decent ending came (pun not intended).

110 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

An amazing story of love and American history.

This is the second time I've read this book. I've also given it as a gift. The story is beautifully wrought and important to tell.

9 people found this helpful