Top critical review
Interesting era but weak characters and slow pace.
on June 26, 2014
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 (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca) ***