I received a free copy of The Red Kimono from the University of Arkansas Press for my honest review.
About the Book:
In 1941, racial tensions are rising in the California community where nine-year-old Sachiko Kimura and her seventeen-year-old brother, Nobu, live.
Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor, people are angry, and one night, Sachiko
and Nobu witness three teenage boys taunting and beating their father in
the park. Sachiko especially remembers Terrence Harris, the boy with dark
skin and hazel eyes, and Nobu cannot believe the boys capable of such
violence toward his father are actually his friends.
What Sachiko and Nobu do not know is that Terrence’s family had
received a telegram that morning with news that Terrence’s father was
killed at Pearl Harbor. Desperate to escape his pain, Terrence rushes from
his home and runs into two high-school friends who convince him to find
a Japanese man and get revenge. They do not know the man they attacked
is Sachiko and Nobu’s father.
In the months that follow, Terrence is convicted of his crime and
Sachiko and Nobu are sent to an internment camp in Arkansas, a fictionalized version of the two camps that actually existed in Arkansas during the war. While behind bars and barbed wire, each of the three young people will go through dramatic changes. One will learn acceptance. One will remain imprisoned by resentment, and one will seek a path to forgiveness.
About the Author:
Jan Morrill lives in Northwest Arkansas. The Red Kimono is her first novel.
The Red Kimono is more than a story about the injustice done to American citizens of Japanese descent during WWII. It’s a story about hate and how letting hate against a race cloud your judgement against a person. Gee, how timely. After Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941 the United States government rounded up all of the Japanese immigrants and their children – who were citizens – and interned them in several camps located throughout the West. Their property was taken and many men were removed from families for no other reason than for communicating with family back home in Japan.
In this novel one Japanese family’s story is told and interwoven with the tale of a young African American boy whose father is killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The teenaged sons of the families, Nobu and Terrance had been friends until a fateful event that shreds that friendship and sends Terrance to jail while Nobu ends up interred. Terrance fights white on black prejudice in jail while Nobu tries to comprehend why he as an American citizen is being locked up for nothing more than the color of his skin.
The daughter of the family, Sachi finds a freedom in the camp that the adults don’t. For the first time she finds children that look just like she does. She is not an outsider but her strongest friendship is with a young Arkansan named Jubie. She does not understand why her mother does not like Jubie.
The book tells its story in alternating voices; Sachi’s, Nobu’s and Terrance’s. Each chapter moves a bit forward and allows the reader to get to know these three characters just a little bit better while also providing different bits and pieces about the other major characters in the book. The confusion of having one’s whole world taken away for no good reason. The rage and pain at the senseless loss of a loved one. The confusion and hurt of a friend betraying that friendship in the worst possible way. All of this and so much more is shared through these three voices. Ms. Morrill does an excellent job of keeping her three main characters separate and in telling a very powerful story. My only complaint at all was in how it ended; it seemed to happen all rushed. Almost as if there were a finite number of pages to fill and all of the action had to happen in those few pages. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Minor mention of the bomb on Nagasaki. BIG FAMILY DECISION. And it was over. There is to be a sequel and I am very happy about that but I still felt quite rushed at the end of this book.
I do feel, though, that this is a book that should be read because it is so much more than a novel about the interments during WWII. It’s got great lessons for all us regarding hate.
You can purchase The Red Kimono on Amazon.com
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Red Kimono from the University of Arkansas Press for my honest review. I received no compensation for this post.