50 in 2012: Book Forty

Bridge of Scarlet LeavesBridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The exploration of interracial relationships during the height of wartime chaos sparked my interest. After reading the book’s synopsis, I quickly dove in. Having loved Letters From Home, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, something just didn’t connect for me…

Maddie Kern and Lane Moritomo had succeeded in hiding their budding relationship from Maddie’s older brother, TJ. However, Lane no longer wanted to hide their love. Maddie was not yet ready to explain their situation to her brother who had assumed a fatherly role following their parent’s tragic accident. Hopelessly in love and destined to be together, Lane and Maddie take matters into their own hands and elope. Enveloped in the thrill of their little secret and overcome with love, they celebrate their new marriage in their own little world. A world that is quickly shattered as they awake the next morning to news that Pearl Harbor has been bombed.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese American relationships become strained: one’s nationality no longer matters. Instead, ethnicity and skin color quickly divide those who were once close friends. All Japanese Americans are immediately considered suspect.

As Lane’s family is torn apart, Maddie struggles to decide whether she should pursue her Juilliard dreams or stand by her husband as he is interned in a Japanese interment camp.

Love, war, tragedy, the courage of two intensely strong women…a little bit of everything. I feel as though there were tangents discussed in great detail that detracted from the overall poignancy of this novel. Perhaps too verbose in some areas, particularly TJ’s college baseball experience, and not detailed enough in others: the aftermath of war and how life is resumed following the intense fractionalization of Japanese American relationships.

Many of the words in this book could have been my family’s own story. My grandmother was interned in Manzanar and my parents faced scrutiny for their Japanese American interracial relationship. It is hard to imagine the sacrifices and fear faced by families like the Moritomo’s. One day, a mere family next door, the next, a potential war enemy. In the blink of an eye…

Disappointing read, poignant plot idea.


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