This book by Kristina McMorris, touched me in a way I didn’t expect. If you are a history buff, or if you care about human rights, you must read this heart-rending tale of two young lovers set against the fear, paranoia, and racism surrounding World War II in the United States. I am a history buff, but I learned many things I didn’t know. I also gained some knowledge and understanding of the Japanese culture.
Young violinist, Maddie Kern, had been accepted to audition for admission to Julliard. While her life seemed predictable, she realized that the deep friendship she had with Lane Moritomo, her brother, T.J.’s best friend, had become much more than mere friendship. In fact, they were in love. The problem: Lane is the westernized American-born son of Japanese immigrant parents who were in an arranged marriage. Maddie expected disapproval from both families, but when she and Lane learned that his parents had arranged a marriage for him, they eloped. Maddie and Lane woke up on the morning after their wedding to learn that Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and they quickly realized that Lane would be viewed as the enemy by friends and neighbors, while Maddie would be shunned by some as a traitor for marrying a “Jap”.
Bit by bit, McMorris draws the reader into this beautiful, graceful, yet painful and shameful story. One of the things that touched me most was learning that Japanese orphans who had been adopted by Caucasian-American families, were taken from those parents and placed in orphanages at the camps. The psychological toll on those children who had then lost parents twice, must have made for some very damaged, resentful, and angry young adults (my opinion). Maddie, like many real-life Caucasian citizens who couldn’t bear to be separated from their loved ones, gave up her plans for Julliard, and volunteered to go into the camps, too.
Based on a compilation of true events from couples and families who were interned at war relocation camps in the western U.S., Bridge of Scarlet Leaves was well-researched, and beautifully written with characters who seemed to step off the page It is a haunting story with well-developed characters who will stay with you long after you have finished reading. A reviewer from Kirkus Reviews called this book, “A sweeping yet intimate novel that will please both romantics and lovers of American history.” I couldn’t agree more.
Publication date: March 1, 2012