About the Book
In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice
Lucy Takeda is just fourteen years old, living in Los Angeles, when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are ripped from their home, rounded up-along with thousands of other innocent Japanese-Americans-and taken to the Manzanar prison camp.
Buffeted by blistering heat and choking dust, Lucy and Miyako must endure the harsh living conditions of the camp. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring beautiful, vulnerable Miyako. Ruined and unwilling to surrender her daughter to the same fate, Miyako soon breaks. Her final act of desperation will stay with Lucy forever…and spur her to sins of her own.
Bestselling author Sophie Littlefield weaves a powerful tale of stolen innocence and survival that echoes through generations, reverberating between mothers and daughters. It is a moving chronicle of injustice, triumph and the unspeakable acts we commit in the name of love.
I started reading this book without knowing what it was about – I had downloaded it on my Kindle and without the book cover and synopsis (it was downloaded from Net Galley), I started reading it one night just by chance. And I am so extremely glad that I did!
This is the story of Lucy Takeda, a young girl who was a Japanese American during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The review is going to contain some spoilers – fair warning!
The story starts with a murder accusation – detectives show up at Lucy’s house looking to speak to her about the murder of someone Lucy knew years ago, someone from the Manzanar camp she was in. Was he a friend of hers? Absolutely not, as a matter of fact Lucy despised and feared him as a girl, but was it enough to make her kill him?
Lucy and her mother, Miyako, led a privileged life. Lucy’s father owned his own business and was well respected in the community. Lucy knew how fortunate she was to have such nice clothes and belongings, she also knew that she had the most beautiful mother around. Miyako was a woman that would turn heads whenever she went out. She took great care and pride in her appearance and it showed. Lucy was lucky enough to take after her mother when it came to her looks, she loved her father but he was average in looks and much older than her mother. She married him because he made her feel safe, and you are led to believe that her looks have made her feel as if this is something she needed badly. There are rumblings in the community on unrest between the US and Japan and Lucy starts to tension at school. She sees her father struggle with his health and unfortunately it gets the better of him and he passes.
Not too long after this, Lucy and her mother are taken to Manzanar – a camp that has been constructed for Japanese Americans. And to say that the accommodations were below par would be an understatement. Sleeping on cots in buildings constructed from scrap lumber and thrown together, the desert sand not only blows through the sides of the building, but also through the floorboards. The food is almost inedible and the bathroom facilities are embarrassing and don’t work the majority of the time. But, being resilient, Lucy tries to make the best of her situation. Her mother takes more time, but she too eventually starts to act like her old self, wearing make up, doing her hair, and dressing well. She also decides to apply for a job that she is well qualified for and gets it. Even though she is qualified, she isn’t hired by the staff due to her talents, but more for her looks. And when she starts to come home with bruises on her body, Lucy begins to wonder what is really going on. When she is confronted by her mothers ‘friend’, and he tells her he will be seeing her soon, her mother takes drastic action to make sure that nothing will EVER happen to Lucy – her beauty has been a curse for her her entire life, she will not allow her daughter to be in the same position.
This is a story that brought so many emotions – not knowing much about what happened to the Japanese Americans during the war, I was appalled to read the conditions they were kept in. It broke my heart to read about Lucy and her mother and when you find out about Lucy’s friendship with Jessie, and her relationship with Garvey…wow. Again, my heart ached for her as she never seemed to catch a break and be truly happy like she should have been able to. But, would the things that haunted her past be enough to drive her to murder? You’ll just have to read to find out.
I absolutely LOVED this book, and was so thrilled that I picked it to read. If you have read it, I would love to hear your thoughts!
About the Author
Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri and attended college in Indiana. She worked in technology before having children, and was lucky enough to stay home with them while they were growing up. She writes novels for kids and adults, and lives in Northern California.
Visit her online at www.SophieLittlefield.com.