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4.4 out of 5 stars28
4.4 out of 5 stars
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My Review: After reading, reviewing and really enjoying Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield a year and a half ago I was eager to read more about the experiences of Japanese Americans during WWII as they were 'evacuated' to internment camps based solely on their race by their own government.

Based on the title and content of the book I think that the author was going for a touching, overly sentimental read but unfortunately I didn't think he quite got there. There was an obvious Romeo and Juliet theme to the storyline but the emotion that you'd expect to be attached to the characters' experiences was lacking and I never felt a deep emotional attachment to Henry, Keiko or their families. Honestly, Keiko's family seemed overly positive for the turmoil their family had to deal with on a daily basis and their reactions just didn't ring true for me.

While I applaud the author for making people of this generation aware of the atrocities, racial discrimination and social injustices that Seattle's Japanese Americans had to endure, I do wish (and expected) the book to deal more with what life was like in the internment camps. I was hoping for a lot more information regarding Keiko's family's experiences and felt like the author missed an opportunity by not incorporating their viewpoints.

The characters, specifically Keiko and especially Henry seemed very one-dimensional and the emotional elements were thin and overly simplistic. It had more of a middle school feel to it if I'm being honest. I also think that more time could have also been used to incorporate some of the secondary characters into the storyline more. Mrs Beatty and Sheldon were the most intriguing and believable characters in the book but sorely underused.

If you haven't guessed yet, this was just an okay read for me. I was hoping for something a lot more substantial and emotional but unfortunately there were too many situations that happened far too easily for Henry throughout the book and the anachronisms -- online support groups in 1986? -- didn't win it any points with me either. Educating people about the blatant racial discrimination of American citizens during that time is the best aspect of this book for this reader.

My Rating: 3/5 stars
*** This book review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm ( ***
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2010
I am fascinated and horrified at the period in American History covered by this book. The shamefull internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps, while their possessions were taken over (stolen) by their neighbors was covered up for decades. I certainly never learned about it in school. I jumped at the opportunity to add to my knowledge of the era, but this is not the book to do it.

The novel is full of misinformation and anachronisms, so I don't trust it to provide any real information. At heart, this is the story of a pre-teen named Henry, the son of Chinese immigrants. Henry's relatives in China suffered terribly under the Japanese occupying forces, and Henry's father despises all Japanese. This is bad news when Henry falls in love with Keiko. If parental opposition isn't enough, Keiko and her family are soon sent to a concentration camp in Idaho. But Henry never forgets Keiko and Keiko never forgets Henry.

This is a great love story for the very young or ,perhaps, the very old. Anyone between 13 and 70 is going to find it a little lame, a little skewed in terms of facts, and slow going in general. There are anachronisms galore, a story line that jumps back and forth in time, but without indicating any growth or maturity on the part of the characters, and really, in the end, it's just not worth the effort to read.
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on November 16, 2013
I read the jacket notes with anticipation, as my husband & I had recently been in both China and Japan. I thought - great! - here's a book that will tell a story of the two cultures living and struggling together here in America.

I was more than a little disappointed. I felt there was so much more under the surface that wasn't written - but maybe that is truly how the two cultures actually subsist in today's world?

It was interesting in the story of the internment of the Japanese in Seattle. Probably a lot like what we had here in Canada. There was a special friendship, bound by a common interest in jazz - that was deeply touching, but this could have been so much more.
Not a bad read and, at times, very good - but could have been so much more.
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on April 29, 2015
Interesting view of the times, but pretty simple and predictable. I felt like it could have been a much more enjoyable read if much shorter. There seemed to be a lot of filler.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
I first heard about this book while taking a food tour of Seattle.
The book depicts the story of Japanese internment during World War Two and the relationship between a young Chinese Boy and a Japanese girl. I had not previously been aware of this taking place in Seattle and how it had henceforth shaped the Pike Place Market (apparently the Italians moved in afterwards).
I enjoyed the story however the love story element was somewhat far fetched. The friendship was apparent but his love of this girl did not seem realistic.
The relationship between immigrants and their new land as well as black and white America was woven into the story nicely.
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