New Release REVIEW : When We Were Flowers – Catori Sarmiento

When We Were Flowers Book Cover When We Were Flowers
Catori Sarmiento
LGBTQ Romance
The Wild Rose Press
Feb 8, 2023

In 2011, Tara Larson was told that her English teaching contract would not be renewed. Taking a chance, she packed herself up and moved from her small-town Minot, North Dakota, to be an Assistant Language Teacher in Tokyo, Japan for a year.
Having barely traveled outside her home state, Tara navigates her way through the Land of the Rising Sun and by chance meets Ami Kishiguchi. The two immediately share an inexorable bond.
However, disaster strikes. First the Tohoku earthquake and nuclear disaster. Then the floods back home in Minot. And most jarringly, Tara must come to terms with the death of one of her students.
Filled with doubts and anxiety, Tara must decide if she will continue the adventure in Japan—and her relationship with Ami—or leave for the safety and comfort of home.

Reviewed by Linda Tonis

Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

Tara Larson always dreamed of being a teacher and finally got the chance as a Middle School English Language Arts teacher. She lived in Minot, a small town in North Dakota and when her contract was up it was not renewed. Finding another teaching job in her small town was not working out and so she applied for a teaching position as an English Assistant Language teacher in Tokyo.

She lived her whole life in Minot and never visited another country, now she will be spending a year with no knowledge of what she is facing. Both excited and nervous she is anxious to see everything while she is in Tokyo and had practiced Japanese for a few months before arriving. While sitting in the restaurant at her hotel she was approached by a woman asking to share her table.

Ami Kishiguchi works at a drug research laboratory her mom was American and her dad Japanese, so Ami’s knowledge of the English language was perfect, and she was more than happy to show Tara around starting with a visit to a lesbian bar. It was amazing how Ami immediately knew what Tara’s sexual preference was. Seeing the sites was easier with Ami since she was able to translate when Tara couldn’t keep up.

Ami and Tara began to spend a lot of time together as friends that turned into lovers. Tara was happy with her teaching position when all hell broke out. A tsunami, an earthquake and the nuclear reactor having issues with leaks. She begins to question whether she should return home since it is unknown what issues the leaks could have on the air and water, but it was Ami who said we can’t control certain things we just have to deal with them.

Ami’s words made sense until Tara got word that the river in Minot was flooding, and her parent’s home could be destroyed forcing them to stay with friends. Now guilt was setting in, she should have been home to help but the realization was being home would just put her in danger and there was nothing she could do to make things better, so she had no intention of leaving. Unfortunately, all the problems that Tara has had to deal with just increased with the death of one of her students.

This was a very sweet story about overcoming what life throws at you and learning how to deal with living in a totally different country. It was wonderful visiting Japan through all the places Tara visited and all the restaurants including McDonalds and Domino Pizza just to name a few. I also was intrigued by the differences between the United States and Japan, free medical care, children getting full meals for breakfast and lunch while we have so many children here going hungry. We have our children pay for lunches if they can afford it and those lunches are far from healthy or tasty, in Japan they are fed the same food that the teachers eat. Of course, not all the differences are positive, but all countries and people have their share of problems nowhere is Utopia, but it is a goal hopefully one day we will reach.

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