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Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

In Kristina McMorris’s second novel 19-year-old Maddie falls in love with her brother’s best friend. Because it is 1941 and her new husband is Japanese-American she is forced to give up her dream of studying violin at Juilliard — while Lane proves his allegiance by enlisting in the military.

McMorris is half-Japanese, and carefully researched the historical period she portrays — including interviews with veterans and trips to visit the sites. The idea for her novel came from a story about a non-Japanese spouse who voluntarily moved to an internment camp to be with her husband. She later learned that over 200 spouses did the same. She shares photos from her research on her Facebook page and in the book trailer.

Just a few weeks ago we reviewed a memoir about the Japanese-American experience. Silver Like Dust also involves a woman who gave up dreams of college when she was moved into an internment camp.

MCMORRIS, Kristina. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. 352p. notes. Kensington. 2012. Tr $15. ISBN 978-0-7582-4685-1. LC number unavailable.  Bridge of Scarlet Leaves e1330702102765 Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Adult/High School–On the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Maddie Kern, a young white woman, elopes with Takeshi “Lane” Moritomo, her Japanese-American boyfriend. Overnight, their friends become their enemies, and the plans they’ve made evaporate. Despite Lane and his family being evacuated to the Manzanar internment camp, he and Maddie fight to hold on to their marriage. As the separation wears on her, Maddie makes a controversial decision–she joins other non-Japanese people who refuse to be away from their spouses and children and moves into the camp voluntarily. Once the evacuation order is lifted and they can leave Manzanar, life does not get any easier. The choices the couple has are few and difficult but they remain committed to each other. This well-researched book explores life during World War II through a number of lenses. Readers follow Maddie’s brother as he leaves college, enlists in the military, and fights overseas. They see life at Manzanar through the eyes of the internees as well as through Maddie’s experiences. McMorris also explores the fate of both the Japanese-Americans who were stuck in Japan after the bombing, and the Japanese linguists who served in a secret branch of the US army. The informative author’s notes and inclusion of several “Asian Fusion” recipes make the book even richer. Fans of romance, historical fiction, or World War II stories  will all find enjoyment here.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA

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Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.

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