Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review Under the Silk Hibiscus by Alice J Wisler

Under the Silk Hibiscus 
By Alice J Wisler

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
© November, 2014
ISBN: 978-1941103302
Ebook .99 currently at Kindle; $3.99 Nook
Pbook 9.95
Historical fiction

Buy on Amazon

From the publisher
During World War Two, Nathan and his family are sent to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wyoming for Japanese-Americans. Nathan’s one desire is to protect the family’s gold pocket watch, a family heirloom brought over from Japan. He fails; the watch is stolen. Struggling to make sense of his life in a bleak camp as the only responsible man of the household, Nathan discovers truths about his family, God, and the girl he loves.

My review:
Wondrous and warm coming of age story set during an America out of control.

Told in a style reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wisler’s latest novel is ultimately about trust, betrayal, and forgiveness. Teenaged Nathan Mori is the one the family counts on after the American-Japanese family is uprooted from their comfortable life in San Jose, California. Papa is removed to another refugee camp, Mama dies after giving birth, Aunt Kozuko does the best she can, younger brother Tom struggles with the after-effects of polio, and older brother Ken works out his frustration and anger through fights and girls and taboo camp items. With few other household goods to their name besides an heirloom Nathan is charged to protect, its loss forces Nathan to face his failure, to look at how prejudicial people of European descent have become and to recognize the loss of innocence.

What was the purpose of the internment camps, ultimately? To protect people of Japanese descent, or to keep potential US enemies contained? Once the war is over and the little family returns to San Jose, Nathan asks why weren’t others, like those of fascist Italian descent not subjected to the same treatment? Suspicion changes people’s nature, but Nathan must still be responsible for his family. With the help of the neighborhood church and a lot of faith, some truths learned, and an example of forgiveness, the Mori family battles its way back to dignity and self-sufficiency.

I was especially interested in this book because I had visited the Heart Mountain site when only a small simple monument had been erected. It gave me chills to be there; the only other place I feel such a displacement is at Little Bighorn.

Told in first person from Nathan’s viewpoint, readers grow up along with him, face his fear, confusion, resentment, and resilience; and come to grips with his belief in himself and his heritage along the journey to adulthood, love, and forgiveness. Those who enjoy recent American history and stories of multi-generational family heritage and strength will enjoy this story.

About the Author

Alice J. Wisler was born and raised in Japan as a missionary kid. She is the author of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, and five novels. Rain Song and How Sweet It Is were Christy finalists. Ever since the cancer death of her four-year-old son Daniel in 1997, she has found solace in writing from heartache and teaches Writing the Heartache workshops across the country.
She lives in Durham, NC with her husband and children where they have a wood carving business, Carved By Heart. Visit her website at http://www.alicewisler.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment