Saturday, April 28, 2012

Julie's Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Summary: In this poignant and evocative novel by acclaimed author Kristina McMorris, a country is plunged into conflict and suspicion—forcing a young woman to find her place in a volatile world. Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy. When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost. Skillfully capturing one of the most controversial episodes in recent American history, Kristina McMorris draws readers into a novel filled with triumphs and heartbreaking loss—an authentic, moving testament to love, forgiveness, and the enduring music of the human spirit.

Review: American history class never talks about the fact that the US rounded up Japanese and Italian immigrants during WWII. It is woefully swept under the rug. It wasn't until I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet that I even knew about this black spot, how sad is that?! Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves again brings this travesty to light in the story of Lane and Maddie.

This story stirs up so many emotions throughout the book. You root for Maddie and Lane even though you know that it won't be an easy road ahead for them. You root for TJ and hope that the chip on his shoulder some how gets removed. You have feelings of patriotism because Ms. McMorris brings you back to that time so vividly. And yet as you read about the travesties against the Japanese-Americans, you can't help but feel sick to your stomach. These were citizens of our country that were rounded up and treated like traitors for no reason at all, except because they were all of Japanese heritage.

What I loved about this book was the growth and change that all the characters went through. Maddie had to become a young wife and daughter in law sooner than she would have liked. Lane had to take on the responsibilities of his family when his dad was taken away. TJ had been responsible for Maddie for so long he had forgotten what it was like to just look out for himself.

I enjoyed reading how Maddie's relationship with her mother-in-lase Kumiko evolved over time. I loved how Kumiko became a woman who opened her heart instead of keeping it closed off. You came to respect who she was and why she was closed off after revealing something of her past.

The book had one of three ways to end and I knew that Ms. McMorris wouldn't take the easy road. I'm not sure how she decided on the ending but it was the only ending that made sense. Did it break my heart? Absolutely. Was it realistic? Absolutely. It was the final chapter/final scene that had me bawling like a baby.

It is obvious that Ms. McMorris did her research and this story meant a great deal to her. She is a wonderful storyteller and makes the time period come to life. I loved her infusion of various societal situations: the Japanese obsession with baseball and the Women's baseball league. Music is also a very important part of the book. It is what Maddie turns to when things in her life seems out of hand. It is was rescues her in some ways in the end of the book too.

I will definitely be check out her novel Letters From Home at some point in the future. I can't recommend Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves enough for any one who enjoys a good WWII novel or just a wonderful family story.

Final Take: 4.75/5



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