A heartfelt read that illuminates an important chapter of American history.

READ REVIEW

IN LIGHT OF DECEMBER

A STORY OF JAPANESE INTERNMENT

A debut novel follows a Japanese American family dealing with the events of World War II.

As he approaches his 18th birthday, innocent and aimless Yoshi Yamaguchi’s largest concerns are his performance on the baseball team and whether his crush will finally notice him. After graduation, he begins working in the family grocery store with his father, a quiet, stoic man with strong political convictions. When Yoshi voices his desire to join the Army (the only military branch open to Japanese citizens), his father flatly rejects the idea. He acquiesces only after America enters World War II, when Yoshi’s mother points out the potential merits of enlisting versus being drafted. But Yoshi’s application is denied on racial grounds. Soon, he and his family are forced to sell their possessions, leave their home, and travel to the Manzanar internment camp (originally known as the Owens Valley Relocation Center). With little information about their future and mindful of the horrors of European concentration camps, the Yamaguchis experience not only the sadness of relocation, but also fears for their lives. Inside the camp, the Yamaguchis struggle to get medical attention for their ailing grandmother. With the little autonomy granted him, Yoshi must make a decision that could affect the rest of his life. The historical aspects of the narrative are well-researched, such as the contentious politics of the Japanese American Citizens League. For instance, membership in the JACL was only open to American citizens, excluding many issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants), such as Yoshi’s mother and grandmother. This angers people like Yoshi’s father, who was finally granted citizenship “almost two decades” after his military service in World War I. One of the novel’s greatest strengths is the dynamic between the various Yamaguchi family members. Williams’ writing is generally straightforward and unembellished, but the tale’s incidents often evoke strong emotions. Yoshi’s characterization as a naïve, somewhat awkward young man allows readers to see historic events through the lens of an accessible narrator. Included in the book are several poignant images by debut illustrator McInvale.

A heartfelt read that illuminates an important chapter of American history.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73404-660-1

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

SUMMER OF '69

Nantucket, not Woodstock, is the main attraction in Hilderbrand’s (Winter in Paradise, 2018, etc.) bittersweet nostalgia piece about the summer of 1969.

As is typical with Hilderbrand’s fiction, several members of a family have their says. Here, that family is the “stitched together” Foley-Levin clan, ruled over by the appropriately named matriarch, Exalta, aka Nonny, mother of Kate Levin. Exalta’s Nantucket house, All’s Fair, also appropriately named, is the main setting. Kate’s three older children, Blair, 24, Kirby, 20, and Tiger, 19, are products of her first marriage, to Wilder Foley, a war veteran, who shot himself. Second husband David Levin is the father of Jessie, who’s just turned 13. Tiger has been drafted and sends dispatches to Jessie from Vietnam. Kirby has been arrested twice while protesting the war in Boston. (Don’t tell Nonny!) Blair is married and pregnant; her MIT astrophysicist husband, Angus, is depressive, controlling, and deceitful—the unmelodramatic way Angus’ faults sneak up on both Blair and the reader is only one example of Hilderbrand’s firm grasp on real life. Many plot elements are specific to the year. Kirby is further rebelling by forgoing Nantucket for rival island Martha’s Vineyard—and a hotel job close to Chappaquiddick. Angus will be working at Mission Control for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Kirby has difficult romantic encounters, first with her arresting officer, then with a black Harvard student whose mother has another reason, besides Kirby’s whiteness, to distrust her. Pick, grandson of Exalta’s caretaker, is planning to search for his hippie mother at Woodstock. Other complications seem very up-to-date: a country club tennis coach is a predator and pedophile. Anti-Semitism lurks beneath the club’s genteel veneer. Kate’s drinking has accelerated since Tiger’s deployment overseas. Exalta’s toughness is seemingly untempered by grandmotherly love. As always, Hilderbrand’s characters are utterly convincing and immediately draw us into their problems, from petty to grave. Sometimes, her densely packed tales seem to unravel toward the end. This is not one of those times.

To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-42001-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more