What My Readers Say about Me
Some of the Amazing Readers
From its opening lines, it's evident that LIBERATION is a powerful story of a different ilk than the usual travelogue or autobiography: "I have been a stranger to my own country and my own country’s people since I was a child. I should confess that I hate Japan from my guts. On top of it all, I have never fitted into Japanese society and have not yet even started to function as a useful person there. To tell the truth, I have never agreed with the Japanese society system and the Japanese way of life. I always wanted to escape from Japan to see the world so that I could be free as a bird. From my childhood on, one thing was crystal clear to me as if it were God’s revelation: I definitely do not belong in Japan, and I just happened to be born in the wrong country. I am absolutely a lone wolf and constantly suffocated by loneliness, because I have no one to talk with about my true feelings and even a fraction of my feelings."
When Shogo Onoe, a stranger in his own country, encounters the peoples and culture of Mexico, he finds the contrasts stark and also finds a new place for himself in the world.
This is where the magic of LIBERATION begins to work its spell on the reader. Onoe's contrast of the emotional, cultural, and spiritual milieus of these disparate countries offers a rare glimpse into the meaning of life as perceived and cultivated under different conditions.
His encounters with others on the road to defining happiness and life's meaning injects his journey with social, philosophical, and spiritual observations that are astutely analytical in their contrasts of personalities and perspectives.
This is a strength of the autobiographical format in general, but under Onoe's hand, it also represents the strength of not just accepting, but searching out new possibilities and opportunities: "Sometimes we cannot explain how a certain thing occurs in our lives. Usually, it is a most crucial thing, which you have fervently craved your entire life. You cry, scream, gibber, pray, and curse, but it never budges. Out of desperation, you swear that you will abandon your faith in Almighty God and will forever turn your back on Him while making the silliest defiant expression on your face. But it is not enough. In order to show your everlasting agony and disappointment with Him, you start pulling your hair out hysterically, dance sacrilegiously, and spit up to the heavens insolently, but it still does not budge a wee bit. It has become beyond your comprehension; you become dispirited to the point of giving it up – that moment, the thing somehow befalls upon you out of the blue."
Underlying these experiences is a consideration of the nature of individualism and exploration that encourages readers to think about their own paths of discovery and alienation in life.
The result is a highly recommended survey that blends literature, biography, and social and spiritual contrasts and reflections. These facets are topped with a dose of philosophical and psychological insight that offer much food for thought for thinkers and book clubs that look for seasoned insights spiced with the experience of a pilgrim actively seeking the meaning of life.
Mexican Rhapsody: Having a Second Chance is at once a travelogue and a biography, and deserves a place on either shelf as it follows Shogo Onoe’s move from native Japan to Mexico.
Faith, growth, and spiritual revelations flow in this story as Onoe reveals what he loves about Mexico, what he hates about his country of origin, and the revelations that marked his journey between them.
Its autobiographical novel approach injects drama into the adventure, which incorporates cross-cultural observations in a manner few travelogues, memoirs, or novels can match: “You know, we’re very open. We don’t care where you hail from, for we know in our hearts that we’re all brothers. We welcome everyone who wants to enjoy what our fatherland can offer. But alas, goddamn Japanese have discriminated against us in the right our faces. I still don’t fathom and will never be okay with such a godawful assailment!”
From the evolving realization that Onoe has always loved writing, feeling that it is his passion, to his foray into being a prankster, his obsession with self-improvement, and his ribald enjoyment of life, Mexican Rhapsody’s adventures translate to a thirst for not just the written world, but new experiences and growth.
This, in turn, provides readers with a hearty blend of entertainment and revelation as philosophy, adventure, travel, cross-cultural experiences, and religious beliefs dovetail and evolve into the odyssey of the author’s lifetime.
Mexican Rhapsody turns the traditional travelogue on end as it incorporates all these facets into a lively survey of relationships and experiences.
While some would be surprised at its description as a ‘novel’ despite its reality-driven basis, this serves to reflect Onoe’s ability to represent the drama and changes inherent in everyday experiences and interconnected lives.
The result takes pieces of different genres to incorporate their strongest qualities into a story of discovery, change, and faith.
It’s a winning biographical novel of exploration and enlightenment that lingers in the mind long after reading, and deserves a place in libraries strong in cross-cultural and faith-based revelations alike.
Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review