I took this book with me to Europe thinking it would be an easy read, especially with the small chapters. I was well into reading "Water for Elephants," and hoped to finish it on the flight, but when the language and sex got too much for me I gave up and threw it away. (warning if you want to read that book.) Hotel was in my checked luggage so I plugged into my MP3 and listened to BYU devotionals instead.
Our traveling pace was fast and exhausting so it took me several weeks to get through this book (besides I’m a slow reader).
This is a sweet coming of age story focusing on the problems of immigrants and their children as it related to the country's atmosphere during WWII. The 12 year old girl Keiko was well integrated into the Seattle culture in that her parents were born in America, but the fear of anyone Japanese in the US during the war would eventually turn her world upside down. Henry was the son of first generation immigrants from China. His family had language barriers and still held nationalist ideas and a strong hate for the Japanese. So, having these two fall in love created family problems for Henry well portrayed by the author. I think the characters were a little young for some of their experiences and the depth of their ardor. It would have worked better for me if Keiko and Henry had been 14.
For me this was more about the immigrant family relationships than the facts of the interment. I would have liked a little more of what went on with Kieko during her time in Idaho and what happened after their release. But the story was told by Henry in two time periods alternating 1944 when he was 12 and when he was 56 in 1986. I don’t usually like this format but this gave me a glimpse into how a generation can change everything when Henry’s son was a full-fledged cultural American by the time he was a college student.
I thought Henry’s interactions with his father were sad and poignant. I had an understanding of how difficult the family culture gap can be for immigrant children. There was a strong sense of Henry’s aloneness and how nice for him to bond with this little Japanese girl at school.
I would give this 3 stars. It was a pleasant story and gave me things to think about.