Endo, Shusaku. Kiku's Prayer: A Novel. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.
Mitsu and Kiku grew up in a Japanese village just down the road from a village with many Christians. It was during a time in which Christianity was banned, so their elders told them to stay away from the other village and its villagers. One day, Kiku has a chance to meet a boy (Seikichi) from the other village and falls in love with him. She and Mitsu are sent to work for a very demanding employer. Seikichi gives her a medallion of the virgin Mary and tells her to pray to her. Kiku is still not a Christian. She goes to work for the Christians, but still does not become one herself. The Christians are persecuted tremendously. What will become of Kiku and Seikichi? Will she ever realize her dream to marry him? This is not an easy book to read. The persecution suffered by the Japanese Christians in this period of the 1860s and early 1870s was horrific. Of course, the persecution of some of their forebears was as great or greater. One is reminded of the suffering that the Lord endured for all of mankind. Some of the words that Kiku spoke to the virgin Mary made you wish that Kiku had known more of the story of Jesus and the Gospels. She had no idea that Mary knew exactly how she felt as she had watched her own Son suffer. It's definitely more of a Catholic work than Protestant one, but it's one that all Christians should appreciate for the parallels between so many passages of Scripture. I do believe that persons other than Christians can appreciate Endo's work, but I do think the meaning will be richer for those who are more familiar with the New Testament. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley. (4 stars)