Book Review & Giveaway: Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith

Book:  Big in Japan
Author:  Jennifer Griffith
Pages:   312
Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle/ebook
Publisher:  Jolly Fish Press
Book Source:  Provided by Publisher
Category:  Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Style:  Humorous, easy feel-good style

Synopsis on Amazon

Buck Cooper is Texan, obese, and invisible to his colleagues. And to the voluptuous Allison Turner, the girl of his dreams, he is way below parr. Buck's entire life is about fitting in, a feat he's been struggling to achieve but has never succeeded. Until serendipity lands him in Japan. Right in the middle of a sumo match.

As his life takes a new turn in a country where being big can mean fame and fortune, Buck must embark on the most dangerous, yet adventurous ride of his life—to find the ultimate meaning of love and acceptance. Even if it means risking his life and giving up everything he has.

My Take:

Author Jennifer Griffith
Query:  how does a petite wife and mother write an empathetic story about a 6'6" 300+ lb. young man embarking on an adventure of a lifetime in a place about as foreign to Texas as it can get?  Answer:  superbly, with a great deal of style and charm—not an easy feat, even for people the size of Buck Cooper.

Jennifer Griffith manages to pen a humorous, engaging and heartfelt tale of someone of stature (okay—fat) without resorting to stereotypes and clich├ęs.  An even greater accomplishment, neither does she kowtow to political correctness and pretend that there are no differences between the obese and the svelt, East and West, male and female.  To the contrary: Ms. Griffith approaches these very real issues with a deft hand and a kind heart and has the reader cheering for her unlikely hero from page one.

Buck's weight is an issue.  A very big issue.  However, she uses his mass to propel her plot and create challenges for Buck, not define his character.  Buck is actually pretty likable with lots of hopes and dreams and disappointments.  He has been raised a Texas gentleman (yes ma'am, no sir), loves and sacrifices for his parents, is always willing to lend a helping hand, and possesses a generous nature that the less-than-scrupulous tend to abuse.  He's an avid sports fan and a brilliant statistician.  He stands up for his beliefs and values his honor.

Kotooshu of Bulgaria
Ms. Griffith gets under Buck's skin. She hits the bull's eye in her portrayal of Buck's unhappy life in the land of strobing fluorescent tubes, claustrophic cubicles, demeaning office politics, surgically altered and artificially enhanced beautiful people, and the bullies both child and adult who zero in on the large targets who don't fit in.  When Buck stumbles into Japan, the spotlight and the life of a sumo wrestler, the reader quite willingly goes along for the ride.  We really, really want this nice guy to finish first.

Ms. Griffith gives Buck a hefty dose of action, peril, bigotry both at home and abroad, moral dilemmas and romantic quandaries.  She gives him successes and failures big and small right up to the last page.  Her in-depth exploration of the hidden world of sumo wrestling, its traditions, culture and scandals both intrigues and enlightens.

Ms. Griffth lived in Japan for eighteen months during her college years and this experience serves her well, as does her extensive research of the sport.  She expertly crafts a world at the same time foreign and familiar.  Through Buck Cooper, his family, his friends and his loves, she slices through the stereotypes and reveals how truly kindred are the Family of Man.

Bottom Line:  Ms. Griffith's themes of the power of love, hope and personal worth resonate deeply in this mega-Cinderella story.  Set against the fascinating backdrop of the Land of the Rising Sun, readers will enjoy time and again this heartfelt journey through the mundane and exotic.

Wait!  Wait!  I'm not finished.  Enter the Rafflecopter drawing below to win your very own copy of Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith, courtesy of Jolly Fish Press.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC disclaimer:  A paperback copy of this book was provided by the author or their agent with the understanding I would publish a fair and honest review.  I receive no other compensation for this content.


Jennifer Griffith said...

Penny! Thank you so much for this thorough and glowing review. It's making me tear up! I put my whole heart into trying to make Buck come across just the way you describe him. Mmmwah! I hope a lucky reader enjoys BIG IN JAPAN too!

Valerie Ipson said...

What an awesome review! I love Jennifer and have been anticipating alaong with many others the release of Big in Japan. I can't wait to read it!

Heather said...

So awesome! Can't wait to read it!

Joan Sowards said...

Go, Jennifer! Awesome.

Debra Erfert said...

Most thorough and well written review I've read in a very long time.

Tina Scott, author, artist said...

What a great review! Thoughtful and well written. I am excited to read this book!

Unknown said...

Wonderful review, Penny. Just wonderful!

Unknown said...

Oh, and wonderful book, Jennifer!

Runaway Bridal Planner said...

Great review and very well written!!!

Karey said...

I'm reading this now and would love to win a print copy for my husband. Thanks for the great review and giveaway.

Bekki said...

I love Jennifer's other books. I can't wait to read this one.