But the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 changed everything. And it didn't take long for friends to become enemies or for attacks on people of Japanese descent to begin. Then, in March 1942, a curfew was ordered for all newly designated enemy aliens and Japanese Americans. A month later, notices were posted that they were all being evacuated, "for their own protection."
Little by little, the Onishi's began to lose everything they had worked so hard to get - their house, the business, they even destroyed generations old family heirlooms and moments of their own lives in japan and America. People flocked to the homes of the soon to be interned Japanese and bought everything the Onishi's owned for a fraction of their value,
Before the Onishi's knew it, they were living in a converted stable at Tanforan Racetrack, where there was no privacy, including in the shared lavatories. At each new humiliating discovery, Meri became more depressed and withdrawn, losing herself in the books sent to the internees by the Quakers. Not even meeting Brian, a friendly boy about her age, helps pull her out of her depression.
No sooner are the families in Tanforan settled when they learn they will be sent to another camp, this time to the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. This is their home for the next few years. For a while, Meri's depression begins to lift when she begins dating Brian. Then when the government decides that Japanese-Americans can enlist , Jeff Onishi joins the army as soon as he is able, though his brother Frank vows he will never fight for the country that could treat its citizens as deplorably as the US is treating the Japanese.
Meri cannot seem to accept what has happened without anger and resentment and no matter how hard Brian and others try to convince her that she can choose not to let circumstances ruin her life, they always do. But, when Brian tells Meri he also plans on enlisting, it is a decision that impacts their relationship and puts Meri's well being in serious jeopardy.
AS Meri falls deeper and deeper into the depths of depression, can her mother be the strength she needs, despite Aiko's own losses and disappointments?
Rising Sun, Falling Star is a fictional family saga based on what really happened to the Japanese and Japanese Americans after the United States entered World War II. This well written, well researched novel realistically depicts the innocent, though gut-wrenching idea so many had that if they could just do something, anything to prove their loyalty to America, everything would be OK. Hall also gives us a clear picture of life in the internment camps, the deprivations, the humiliations but also the ways in which people managed to cope and even thrive. For instance, many skilled and talented people were interned, and they provided opportunities for others to learn different skills and help relive the oppressive circumstances under which they lived. The art class that Brian and Meri take while at Topaz is similar to those offered by artist Chiura Obata when he was interned there.
The story of the Onishi family, their ups and downs, their triumphs and defeats, their wins and losses is rendered beautify by Hall and is a family story that will stay with you for a long, long time.
This book is recommended for ages 14+
This book was provided to me by the publisher
This is book 8 of my 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry
You can find more information about Topaz Internment Camp HERE
|Ariel view of Topaz|
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