reviews and more about historical fiction and history-related non-fiction for children and teens
Monday, July 14, 2014
Dust of Eden: A Novel, by Mariko Nagai (Albert Whitman & Co., 2014)
Recommended for ages 8-12 This slim historical novel in verse packs an wallop of an emotional punch. It tells the story of Mina Tagawa, a young Japanese-American girl from Seattle who along with her family is imprisoned in an internment camp in Idaho, where they live for three years. The author sensitively portrays this shameful period in our history, and the way in which different members of Mina's family react: her stoic grandfather; her angry father, a newspaper reporter who is arrested soon after Pearl Harbor; her frustrated teenaged brother, who joins the highly decorated Japanese regiment that fought in Europe. We also see the reaction of Mina's white best friend and her family, who try to remain loyal to their Japanese American friends and neighbors during this difficult time. In a particularly moving passage, Mina's brother Nick writes of his experience liberating Dachau, drawing comparisons to the camp he lived in Idaho surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers like the ones he saw in Germany. In an afterword, the author explains that she was inspired to write Dust of Eden by her childhood doctor, a second-generation Japanese American who was interned along with his family during World War II. The afterword gives a short background on the chronology of the internment.
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Some of the books reviewed were received as advance review copies from Amazon Vine or directly from the publisher. Others may have been purchased or checked out from the library. I am willing to receive copies of appropriate books from publishers for review on this blog. Please contact me for further information.