More than just a beautiful love story. Gifted Hands is a cultural experience for the senses.

     The year is 1956, Charlie Kelly an  American and his girlfriend Keiko originally from Sasebo, Japan are both attending Western State College in Gunnison Colorado. Looking forward to marriage and a future life together, their happiness is soon cut short when Keiko receives a disturbing telegram from her mother in Japan. Her father a fisherman by trade has been seriously injured in a boating accident and Keiko's mother is asking her to come home. Although Keiko has a gut feeling she will not be returning to America, she fulfills her obligation by returning to her country to help her mother care for her father. For weeks Charlie's letters to Keiko go unanswered, leaving him deeply depressed, wanting to quite school and leave it all behind. While in Colorado, unbeknownst to Charlie, Keiko also has feelings of abandonment as her letters to him also go unanswered. Why is this happening? Who has come between this couple to separate them and their love?

Gifted Hands is more than a sweet love story between an American and a Japanese. In Gifted Hands you get to explore the Japanese culture through the travels of Charlie Kelly, while learning about the cultural differences between Japan and America. These cultural differences which seem like a double-edged sword, when you learn how they may have led to the destruction of Charlie and Keiko's relationship. Or have they?

This 21 year journey takes the reader from Colorado to Japan,where Charlie struggles with language barriers, yet still manages savior-faire and making some friends along the way. The author enlightens the reader with Japanese language while the reader gets to learn the behavior, mannerisms and traditions of the Japanese culture as they are taken through a Japanese bath house, a traditional Geisha restaurant, and a Japanese consulate, just to name a few. While you also get to hang out with other foreigners at the Kokusai International Center where foreigners living and teaching in Japan come together to speak English, partake in potlucks and share their stories.

This novel includes a touch of suspense, mystery and at times I found myself in a long-awaited anticipation when it comes to the relationship of Charlie and Keiko. Twists and turns left me wondering what might happen in the next chapter. Will Charlie find his lost love? How will his grown children react? Many lessons are also taught, friendships are very important, love and forgiveness even more so. Also unique experiences and lessons having to do with loss are presented in this book. One important one teaches the readers that sometimes we need to open our hearts and allow others to help us in overcoming our loss or grief. With the help of others one can overcome our desperation, despondency or desolation to help us move forward and find happiness again after a misfortune or tragedy.

The depictions presented in this story are well researched and one gets the sense from the beginning that the author Fenter has had experience with the Japanese culture. I found the information on Christianity in the Japanese culture quite interesting and an eye-opening experience. I also found Kenneth Fenter to be a great story-teller who in his creativity has weaved a great tale of love and passion that any reader whatever their background can easily read and enjoy. (Digna)

    Posted on Library Thing by Autumn Blues Reviews, Feb. 21, 2013

    Posted on Goodreads, Feb. 21, 2013

    Amazon.Com, Feb. 21, 2013



Gifted Hands: Saino no Aru te

Review, by Sophie Sanders

I was really excited to be given the chance to review this book a few weeks ago as it sounded like something I would pick up and I was really looking for something new to read to just give me a bit of a break from everything.

Gifted Hands is actually a sequel novel but I haven't read the first and knew nothing about it, yet I still found that I really “got” the story from the first few chapters and this could easily be a stand alone novel.

The book is about ex-war vet and skilled artist Charlie who has recently returned to the states, bringing with him a young Japanese student and talented musician; Keiko, whom he loves, and who has a scholarship to study at the same university as him. Their relationship; already bumpy due to the vast differences in both culture and language, is made more tumultuous by Keiko's obligation to her family, which eventually tears them apart.

Charlie begins to move on with his life after a while, realizing his dreams of a future with Keiko are over and opening his heart to the chance of happiness with a different woman. Sadly, Charlie's life becomes more wrought with sadness and even grief as after years of marriage and children, his wife passes, leaving him with the ambition to see the world once more; live out the retirement they had always planned together. Embarking on his journey, Charlie first sets off for a place seen before in his army days, a place no longer synonymous in his memory with heartbreak; Japan...

While traveling the vast country, Charlie learns more about the rich culture and traditions of the country which he had only previously known in a time of war. Though finding Keiko is not his reason for the trip, fate has it's ways of bringing them together again.

This really sounds like simple kind of love story but it's more than that. Gifted Hands does have that heartfelt romance and sadness you'd associate with that kind of novel but it is also wrought with mystery and suspense, something totally unexpected that really drives the story forward and makes you want to read on.

I really enjoyed this book and it was the prefect "take a break" kind of book that I was looking to read after being so stressed recently with so much to do. I actually learned so much about Japan and the culture of the country which was great as I've never read anything set in the orient before now and Fenter writes with so much respect and conviction for the traditions and cultures of the country that it never felt like the writing was too overdone or overly researched. If you like a mix of love and mystery then this one is for you. Sophie Sanders, Cumbria, England, "Alone. Together. Fact. Fiction blog."