The story begins in the hills of California in 1871 where a small colony of Japanese people hopes to grow mulberry trees, cultivate tea bushes and develop rice paddies to bring ancient industries to the new world. The tale winds coming of age tenderness with economic, ethnic and class struggles into a whole that shows a meeting of cultures. Julius Ceasar Kuhl, son of a local farmer, and Kei, a Japanese servant to the German family entrepreneur, alternate telling their stories. This may be the only story with a comparison between Japanese and hillbilly music. The story shows how friendship can survive age and culture differences and even death.
California in 1871 comes to life in Jonathan Pearce's "Far side of the Moon." His ear for dialogue is clear, making each character have a distinct and believeable voice. This book would be an insightful addition to western history courses and could serve as an introduction to Japanses history and culture. I recommend this book for school and home libraries. Read it!