Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

Title: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
Author: Kristina McMorris

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWII / California / Japanese Internment / Interracial Marriage / War)
Publisher/Publication Date: Kensington (2/28/2012)
Source: The author.

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did, but I didn't want it to end!
One-sentence summary: Four Americans are deeply impacted by the Japanese American internment in the 1940s.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do, but I vastly prefer the UK cover, which exactly captures the feel of the novel.

I'm reminded of...: Meira Chand

First line: At the sound of her brother's voice, flutters of joy turned to panic in Maddie Kern.

Do... I love the collection of Japanese-American recipes at the end of this book?: YES. Being a foodie, I love new recipes, and many of these recipes would be great for a book club to use while discussing the book (and the author is available to Skype with book groups!)

Did... I cry during this: YES. Numerous times. In a good way.

Did... I adore McMorris' extras on her website?: YES. She shares the real correspondence between her grandparents from WWII. There's an amazing giveaway for a WWII party for book clubs, photo albums, and other goodies!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow for sure -- a moving novel of a shameful time in American history.

Why did I get this book?: I love historical novels set during WWII.

Review: While I don't traditionally get my history lessons from celebrities, I was incredibly moved by actor George Takei's comments about living in an internment camp for three years as a child.

I'd had Kristina McMorris' novel in my review queue and was excited to start.  I love historical fiction for making real events in the past, and this book doesn't disappoint.  Maddie Kern, an Anglo American, and Lane Morimoto, a Japanese American, fall in love and decide to elope, much to the displeasure of their families.  They wake the next day to find Pearl Harbor bombed by the Japanese. Overnight, their already misunderstood marriage became something that provoked criticism, critique, hatred, fear, and horror.  The events that followed were worse than they could imagine.

McMorris humanizes this incredibly fraught era, making very real a story that seems too horrifying to be true. It's a part of American history that is uncomfortable, easily ignored, but crucial to remember, and McMorris's novel is an excellent introduction.  Her cast isn't enormous, but even the secondary characters get full stories and personalities, and there was much to hook me.  

In fact, I cared about the characters to the point that I actually was quite angry with one of the plot twists -- there was a very tragic event that I could have lived without. I suppose the story needed that gut punch but I felt almost betrayed -- I wanted so badly for something else to happen.  

In her author's note, McMorris writes about some of the themes and images she wanted to explore in her book -- brother pitted against brother, families forced to chose country or spouse -- and for the most part, she manages to convey that epic scope while keeping the story manageable and human.  My only frustration with this novel, if anything, was that I wanted more.While a chunky 430 pages, McMorris doesn't focus on every life event, and as a result, some momentous moments are skipped, referred to by other characters in flashback or thought.  I wanted to be with the characters during all their victories and tragedies.  But that's my only quibble, and a small one at that.

Fans of WWII fiction will love this -- it's a lovely contribution to the historical fiction genre and I'm eager to see what McMorris does next!

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 3/23.

Comments

  1. I love books that evoke emotions like that. This sounds wonderful. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was such a good book -- one of those that at the end I didn't want to put down. I could have reread it just to keep savoring the feel!

      Delete
  2. I'm relieved you understood my reasoning for the gut punch, Audra, but I'm still sending you loads of hugs. Thank you so much for taking the time to read a story that's very special to me, and for the incredible review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms McMorris -- thank you for this lovely note! I hope you didn't mind that comment -- it wasn't a knock against you or the writing, just that I so didn't want that to happen and and and ... well, you know. :)

      Delete
    2. LOL. Nope, I didn't mind your comment a bit! If you hadn't cared about the tragic events in my story, that would have meant I didn't succeed in making you care enough about the characters. So indeed, I took your note as a pure compliment. :)

      Delete
  3. I hadn't heard of this title; it sounds amazing. I read a few books last year about the internment camps. It's a topic that I find fascinating, though very sad. Have you ever heard of East Wind Rain? It's based on a historical event in Hawaii just after Pearl Harbor that historians often say was part of the reason the camps were created.

    And I agree about the cover art. Why do UK books often have better covers? I frequently order from Book Depository or AwesomeBooks for precisely that reason. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of that book -- I'll add it to my TBR. I love novels that humanize these uncomfortable eras -- one of my favorite reasons for reading hist fic.

      I covet UK covers -- they are often so unique and interesting! That's such a good tip abt BookDepository -- I hadn't thought to use them for foreign editions! *plots*

      Delete
  4. I'm from Texas, will be I be qualified to enter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sveta -- yes! CA is for Canada (which I learned after wondering why California got so many giveaways on GoodReads)! Do enter! :)

      Delete
  5. This sounds great! And I love the cover on this one.

    Side note: how did you get the form to open in a separate window? I always try to fit mine into my blog post, but I think I like this way better. It's probably just a simple option for me to choose, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenny -- when I make my forms, I just copy and paste the URL at the bottom and create a regular link in my entry. Does that make sense? Feel free to email me at unabridgedchick at gmail.com if that doesn't make sense, and I'll happily walk you through it!

      Delete
  6. This is a book I've seen around and would love to get my hands on...and recipes too! Excellent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Serena -- it made me immediately think of you and Anna!

      Delete
  7. I'm halfway through this one now and really enjoying it! I don't think I've hit the tragic plot twist yet -- eek, the angst! -- and don't know how I'll feel about that, but McMorris has a great way of drawing you into the story. I definitely feel like I'm at the internment camp myself, and just hope some of these characters get a happy ending.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you'll know it when it happens and uuuugh. So good, in that I got teary and mad and stuff, but sooo sad. I really enjoyed this one -- despite the length, it read very quickly. I could have lingered with everyone -- and wished some alternative endings for folks!

      Delete
  8. This sounds right up my alley. I'm definitely going to have to get my hands on a copy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I told Serena -- I thought of you both! :)

      Delete
  9. Here's another book I really want to read. Plus I always love a book that can make me cry.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. A book that makes you cry in a good way, is one powerful book.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sounds like another one I'll have to add to my TBR list! Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review & Giveaway: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Winter 2017 Bloggiesta To Do Post

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Weekend reads, or summer, summer, summer!