Under the Blood-Red Sun

Under the Blood-Red Sun

4.2 49
by Graham Salisbury

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Hawaii, December 7, 1941. Tomikazu's world is destroyed when Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese. Tomi's father and grandfather--both born in Japan--are arrested, and Tomi must help his mother and sister survive. It's a terrifying time to be Japanese American. An ALA Notable Book. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults. A Booklist Editors' Choice.  See more details below


Hawaii, December 7, 1941. Tomikazu's world is destroyed when Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese. Tomi's father and grandfather--both born in Japan--are arrested, and Tomi must help his mother and sister survive. It's a terrifying time to be Japanese American. An ALA Notable Book. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults. A Booklist Editors' Choice.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Salisbury (Blue Skin of the Sea) again invokes a Hawaiian setting for this novel, which chronicles the trials of a Japanese American boy and his immigrant family in 1941. Tomi's fisherman father and housekeeper mother work hard to support Tomi, his younger sister and grandfather in their cramped servants' house. While he embraces everything about being American, including a passion for baseball, Tomi struggles to find some middle ground between his modern life and the nationalism and traditional values his parents and Grandpa try to impart. But as WWII intensifies and Pearl Harbor is bombed, Tomi's family faces racism, violence and hardship at every turn. Tomi's father and grandfather are taken away and incarcerated, leaving Tomi to worry if he can perform honorably as man of the house. Salisbury skillfully describes Tomi's emotional highs and lows, and has a particular knack for realistically portraying the camaraderie and dialogue between boyhood chums. The slow-evolving plot drags in a few spots (especially the play-by-play descriptions of baseball games), but readers are rewarded with steadily building dramatic tension in the novel's second half and a satisfyingly open-ended finale. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
The ALAN Review - Lisa J. McClure
Tomi, a first-generation Japanese American, spends his day attending school, helping his father with the pigeons, and playing baseball with his eighth-grade friends. But, this is Hawaii and it's 1941. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese upends Tomi's life. His father and grandfather along with other Japanese men are imprisoned, and Tomi must protect and provide for his family. Most importantly, Tomi must not "disgrace his family" despite the treatment he and other Japanese immigrants receive as a result of the attack. Fortunately, his friends, the Rats, stand by him and Tomi doesn't have to face the challenges alone. Salisbury's second novel is not only a timeless tale of the loyalty of friends, but it also explores both cross-generational and cross-cultural issues. An easy read, Under the Blood-Red Sun is nevertheless challenging in its content and subject matter. This novel would work well in either an English or a social studies class.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-September, 1941 is a time of increasing confusion for Tomi Nakaji, 13, who lives on the island of Oahu. As if his gruff, stroke-slowed grandfather, who insists on waving his Japanese flag around the yard, isn't enough, he has to contend with Keet Wilson, the bully next door. From a treetop, Tomi and his haole (white) best friend, Billy, witness in disbelief the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tomi finds the horrors personalized as his father, a poor fisherman, and later his grandfather are arrested and his father's fishing partner is killed. Tomi assumes responsibility for the family honor and katama, or samurai sword. Racial/ethnic tension is subtly portrayed throughout the novel, but escalates following the Japanese attack- Tomi's mother loses her job as a housekeeper and Billy ``disappears'' for awhile, though he returns as a loyal and helpful friend. Tomi faces his fears and becomes assertive enough to stand up to Keet without besmirching his family's honor and risks his life to see his imprisoned father. Character development of major figures is good, the setting is warmly realized, and the pace of the story moves gently though inexorably forward. While it may be a bit more aimed than pitched, the ending leaves readers confident that the Nakajis will survive.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Frances Bradburn
Salisbury captures the dilemma of the Japanese who lived in Hawaii during World War II through the narrator, Tomi, born in Hawaii, and his Japanese parents, who had escaped the poverty of Japan, only to find themselves enmeshed in a war they are unprepared to fight. As tensions between Japan and the U.S. mount, eighth-grader Tomi finds himself more and more the target of his classmates' and neighbors' suspicions. Well aware of the increasing tension between native islanders and Japanese immigrants, Tomi desperately tries to tone down his grandfather's displays of nationalistic and family pride, a job the boy finds distasteful (he, too, loves the stories of his ancestors), yet horrifyingly necessary. Neither his grandfather nor the rest of the family can ignore the seriousness of the situation after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. On a baseball field when the first planes fly over, Tomi and his best friend, Billy, climb a nearby tree to escape the strafing and to see what is happening. Salisbury spares few details--the fear, the horror, the sounds, the smells all envelop the reader as they do the characters. And so do the grief and shame. The Japanese embarrassment is palatable, and, of course, life is never the same again. Tomi's father is eventually deported to a U.S. prison camp; his mother loses her job; and his little sister is so traumatized that she refuses to leave the house. The action-packed novel focuses on the Japanese American perspective during World War II; yet, there are few real villains here. The author subtly reveals the natural suspicions of the Americans and the equally natural bewilderment of the Japanese immigrants when they suddenly become the personification of the enemy. It is a tribute to the writer's craft that, though there are no easy answers in the story, there is empathy for both cultures. For an equally impressive view of the Japanese American experience during the war, see Stanley, below.
From the Publisher
Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

A Booklist Children’s Editor’s Choice

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Product Details

San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
Prisoners of the Empire Series
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Graham Salisbury’s family has been in the Hawaiian Islands since the early 1800s. He currently lives with his family in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of the award-winning Blue Skin of the Sea and Lord of the Deep.

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Under the Blood-Red Sun 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Under The Blood Red Sun is a great book to read if you enjoy history and the effects of war.The story is about a Japenease American boy and how the bombing of Pearl Harbor changes his life. The book shows how fear can cause predjudices toward inocent people. I am not normally into historical novels, but this one kept my attention. I highly recommend reading this book to find out more about Pearl Harbor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was great. I've never really been interested in this subject before, but this book helped me understand the concept of the bombings at Pearl Harbor. Especially since it came from the perspective of a boy my age. 2 thumbs up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book that ever read! I really hope that Graham salisbury makes more books about tomi and billy and even keet. Keep up the work because i will be on a watch out for your books ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like I was with Tomi.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book! The book shows what a great friendship is like during Pearl Harbor and World War II. I recommend this book to children through the 4th to 7th grade because the book tells what it was like to live during Pearl Harbor. This book was not only liked, but loved by all the people I recommended it to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this book was very interesting. I never really like to read about wars and history but this book was informative to see how Japanese children felt during world war 2. I like this book because it was not very gruesome as I expect war novels to be.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ripplepond // eight moons // warrior // BloodClan // she // light grey and silver ripple like stripes with black star on left ear and sea green eyes // Myntlight/Revenge // Lightpaw (AshClan) // Vapourpaw (AshClan) // downcast and looking for a place to belong // mother was assassinated by Metal on order of her uncle, Striking. Revenge left the kits shortly after and never returned. Her mentour was a former BloodClan warrior, Dragon. // &zeta // Stay the night by Zedd ft. Hailey Williams //
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kels-enlgish9-Till More than 1 year ago
Under the Blood Red Sun is a book written my Graham Salisbury, an extraordinary author who wrote many books about life in Hawaii during the 1940¿s. This book is about a 13 year old boy, Tomi, whose life changes after Pearl Harbor is hit by a bomb. Before this, he was just a normal third generation Japanese-American who loved playing baseball with his friends on team Rats. One of the reasons that this book was so interesting was because I could relate somewhat to what Tomi was feeling and going through since my grandpa lived during this time, and loves baseball as well. I tried to imagine how my grandpa might be during this time, and he might have been somewhat like Tomi. I also live in Hawaii and liked finding out how it was like before to live here. I liked in this book, Tomi and his friends have to face difficulties and how some kids these days might react the same, or differently as them. Tomi also acted exactly like how kids these days would act too, like when he was busy with sports (baseball) and hanging out with his friends (Rico, Mose and Billy). It¿s interesting to see how kids through the generations don¿t totally change. This makes a good connection to the readers I think, if they are around their teenage years. I like how Tomi demonstrated courage in some parts when his father was in trouble, which made me think about what I would do in that certain situation. It was also a sad book, since Tomi and his family had to go through many hardships like his grandpa getting taken away, but that¿s what made it suspenseful. This book is like a partly true, but partly fiction book. It gives us an idea of what it was like to be a kid back in the 1940s, but it¿s not a completely true story; just a story that could have definitely have been the case for someone back then. That¿s a pretty good thing because you can get creative on what you say and how you write, since it doesn¿t have to be exactly what happened, but still conveys the main idea. Overall this was a very fascinating book to read, and if you are a Japanese-American living in Hawaii who is looking for a book that keeps you anticipating, then it¿s a must read!
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KIRSTEN DUIGNAM More than 1 year ago
This is a grrat book!!!
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Lulu4me More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years back and I really enjoyed it. I love books were you get to know the characters really well and this author did a very good job with that. This book had some sad parts but they were written so you could feel the sadness but weren't taken over by it. This book made you feel REAL emotions. Not just those fake emotions you feel with most books because you know that you're supposed to be sad or scared or whatever. I would really recommend this book.