06 January, 2014

A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley [Biddy, Highland Park]

Satomi, born to an American father and a Japanese mother,has never felt that she "fits" - neither with the Japanese families in town nor the white Americans. As tensions escalate and result in the start of World War II, her singularity cannot be avoided and the ease of her life in Angelina, California, comes to an end.

Soon the attitudes to the family can no longer be ignored and Satomi's father signs up and is killed at Pearl Harbour. Despite the fact that he died fighting for America against the Japanese, the community alienates Satomi and her gentle mother, Tamura, completely. The situation deteriorates beyond their worst nightmares when President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 declares that anyone with "one drop of Japanese blood" will be interned.

Satomi and Tamura find themselves in the dire conditions of Manzanar, a filthy, disease-filled internment camp. Both women maintain their pride and grace and soon establish a small but close-knit circle of friends.

The author discovered this shameful piece of American history while researching Pearl Harbour and felt that the story needed to be written. It was an eye-opener for me but, even with the atmosphere of prejudice and hardship that the Japanese people encountered at that time, the story and its protagonists have a charming appeal. Recommended to readers who enjoy historical novels set in World War II, coming-of-age-stories or simply as a good summer read.

Author: Maureen Lindley
Publisher: Bloomsbury, New York
Date: 2013
ISBN: 9781608192656

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