This was a beautifully written book, showing us a slice of life in a small town in Colorado during World War II, when a Japanese internment camp is built there.
13 year old Rennie tells us the story, and I thought that the book was going to be her coming of age tale, with the events of the time happening around her. That wasn’t what I got out of the book.
Instead, we find out about the time:
- The townspeople that are afraid if they hire those in the camp, they will pass messages to Japan in the laundry.
- Rennie’s father, who doesn’t believe the Americans of Japanese descent should be imprisoned, and hires them to work his sugar beet field, replacing the young men that have gone off to war.
- Rennie’s mother, who doesn’t think the internment is right, but is afraid to stand up to the women in her social circle (but stands up to the men of the town when it really is needed).
- The entire town, when a young girl is brutally raped and murdered. Most people think it must have been someone from the camp (even though there is evidence otherwise), since no one in the town could have done such a thing.
- The murdered girl’s sister, disowned by her family for marrying the wrong man, who has left her to raise their baby on her own.
We see all of this and more through Rennie’s eyes, and we see how the town and the people in it change as events unravel.
This was an interesting and thought provoking read.
I read this book with my Book Club M. We all liked it, most of us liked it a lot. There was a lot to talk about in this book, and I wish we’d gotten to more of it than we did. It is interesting to note that this book club keeps coming back to books about World War II. Previous books include:
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (alternate history branching at WWII)
- The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War by Louise Steinman
- When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Which works out to about 2 WWII related books a year since January 2006, when this club got its start. It is interesting that each of these views am entirely different piece of the war, looking at a different aspect of it.