Book review: ‘a clearer meaning of tolerance’

I’m tickled to share this new review of my memoir, The Same Moon, from the Japan America Society of Minnesota. Here’s what reviewer Tom Haeg identified as a takeaway:

What we learn here is a clearer meaning of tolerance. We must accept others as similar to, not different from ourselves. What we share in common is more important than what distinguishes us. Inclusion not exclusion. Said in another, eponymous way: it’s the same moon seen in Moorhead as it is in Japan.

Yes! I love that. Thank you, Tom, for putting it so well. The full review is below.

More reviews and stories are available on my media page.

To pick up a book — or some Same Moon gear (T-shirts, tote bags, notebooks, mugs …) — please visit my Same Moon page.

Thank you, everyone, for your interest and support!


A review of my memoir, The Same Moon: Moorhead, Minnesota native Sarah Coomber bares all in this
riveting non-fiction/travelogue/memoir revealing her encounters
in Japan: first as a foreign high school student and then as a
Japan Exchange Teacher (JET). Now, I know that there are a lot
of other journals and disquisitions by other well-qualified gaijin
ready to share their astute observations about Japan, but what
makes this one unique is her perspective: she was student and
sensei, i.e., working both sides of the counter. This volume
offers keen, authentic insights.
She spices her journal with trysts brimming with unrequited
love, cultural shocks, and self-healing therapies to cope with
loneliness and nostalgia while living in a small, rural, isolated
village (uh, machi). Oftentimes she found herself compromised
by the stifling Japanese bureaucracy (“I had no purpose there…
Now and then I read a sentence…It could be any half-wit
standing there.”). To combat this she set out to change attitudes
and re-make values. She undertakes gritty efforts to take special
umbrage at the plight of the Japanese woman, the accepted
practice of uchi (those inside) and soto (those outside), and the
ubiquitous etiquette formalism which any naïve newcomer
confronts ad nauseum.
The takeaway: What we learn here is a clearer meaning of
tolerance. We must accept others as similar to, not different
from ourselves. What we share in common is more important
than what distinguishes us. Inclusion not exclusion. Said in
another, eponymous way: it’s the same moon seen in Moorhead
as it is in Japan.
Tom Haeg

4 thoughts on “Book review: ‘a clearer meaning of tolerance’

  1. So happy & proud of you Sarah❤️Thank you again for starting a yoga class this Summer, so needed for this girl

  2. A wonderful review, Sarah. He touched on really important observations. I frequently think of the name of the book when I see the moon, remembering our common humanity.

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s