Some familial relationships seem easy. Others take every ounce of strength we have to endure them. Whether our relationships with our family members are smooth or jagged, they both require time, energy, and commitment. Anne Koroda Duppstadt of The Love Ceiling knew that all too well. At 64 years old, one might assume time would be opening up for her, now that her family had grown. But with an adult daughter moving back home, her husband going through a retirement crisis, and her father, a famed artist, giving her as much difficulty as ever, she’s beginning to wonder if she’ll ever get the chance to pursue her own artistic dreams.
Author Jean Davies Okimoto’s writing is clean and bright, and she has the ability to relate to her audience and make them feel at home. Her characters will most likely be recognizable in some form as people in anyone’s own family unit. One thing that really struck me with this novel was the recurring sensation that I was joining in on the family conversations and the talk amongst friends over a cup of coffee. Not the frivolous gossippy sort, but the sharing of heartache or the confiding in one another that most women find vital in the navigation through life. I’ve often read books where this sort of writing almost comes across as forced, or an “as the author I can relate to your normal life” tone that stays on the surface and doesn’t ring true. But Okimoto, through realistic and well-written dialogue (she is a playwrite, after all) exhibits the beauty that is part of tight family relationships, and the pain of it too.
Another important part of this book that can’t be overlooked is the theme of women and creativity. As caretakers of our families, we often shelve our creative endeavors, put the dreams on the back burner because we’re raising children, building a family, etc. Great and noble things, to be certain! But sometimes it gets too easy to leave things on the shelf when they really need to be dusted off and put to use – for ourselves as well as for those we love. Because our families benefit from seeing us thrive and finding fulfillment too.
The Love Ceiling is an inspiring story of a woman who doesn’t say “it’s too late to start now”. Based on Okimoto’s play “Uncle Hideki and the Empty Nest”, The Love Ceiling is the perfect novel to read when it’s time to remind yourself that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.