Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans of Japanese ancestry (either born in Japan or born here as American citizens) were relocated to relocation/concentration camps. Twelve-year-old Sumiko lived with her family on their flower farm. Then one day her uncle and grandpa are taken away. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the family is told to pack a small bag and report to a relocation camp. They sold what they could, but mostly, they lost everything. The rest of the story is about how Sumiko and her family deal with living in camp. After losing their freedom, it’s amazing how well they were able to cope. The camp was in Arizona, the hottest of all the camps. Yet, even with the desert conditions, Sumiko and her neighbors are able to grow beautiful gardens. They are kept in the dark about the events of the war, so they have no idea how long they’ll be in the camp. Then, Sumiko’s cousins and the other men are asked to enlist in the army. They must decide if they can fight for a country that doesn’t even trust them with their own freedom. This is a beautifully written novel about a time in our history that many people conveniently forget. The details are amazingly real. This is historical fiction at its best, because you are living in this time period experiencing these events through Sumiko.
By the way, the author also wrote the Newbery Award Winning book for 2005, called KIRA-KIRA