Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.
When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.
Skillfully capturing one of the most controversial episodes in recent American history, Kristina McMorris draws readers into a novel filled with triumphs and heartbreaking loss--an authentic, moving testament to love, forgiveness, and the enduring music of the human spirit.
"Impeccably researched and beautifully written." --Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
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Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
By Kristina McMorris
KENSINGTON BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Kristina McMorris
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNovember 1941 Los Angeles, California
At the sound of her brother's voice, flutters of joy turned to panic in Maddie Kern. "Cripes," she whispered, perched on her vanity seat. "What's he doing home?"
Jo Allister, her closest girlfriend and trusted lookout, cracked open the bedroom door. She peeked into the hall as TJ hollered again from downstairs.
"Maddie! You here?"
It was six o'clock on a Friday. He should have been at his campus job all night. If he knew who was about to pick her up for a date ...
She didn't want to imagine what he would do.
Maddie scanned the room, seeking a solution amidst her tidy collection of belongings—framed family photos on the bureau, her posters of the New York Symphony, of Verdi's Aida at the Philharmonic. But even her violin case, which she'd defended from years of dings and scratches, seemed to shake its head from the corner and say, Six months of sneaking around and you're surprised this would happen?
Jo closed the door without a click and pressed her back against the knob. "Want me to keep him out?" Her pale lips angled with mischief. Despite the full look of her figure, thanks to her baggy hardware store uniform, she was no match for TJ's strength. Only his stubbornness.
"My brother seeing me isn't the problem," Maddie reminded her. She glanced at the clock on her nightstand, and found cause for remaining calm. "Lane shouldn't be here for another twelve minutes. If I can just—"
The faint sound of an engine drove through the thought and parked on her words. Had he shown up early? She raced to the window, where she swatted away her childhood drapes. She threw the pane upward and craned her neck. Around the abandoned remains of her father's Ford, she made out a wedge of the street. No sign of Lane's car. She still had time.
"Hey, Rapunzel," Jo said. "You haven't turned batty enough to scale walls for a fella, have you?"
Maddie shushed her, interrupted by creaks of footfalls on the staircase. "You have to do it," she decided.
Warn Lane, Maddie was about to say, but realized she needed to talk to him herself, in order to set plans to meet later that night. Come tomorrow, he'd be on a train back to Stanford.
She amended her reply. "You've got to distract TJ for me."
Jo let out a sharp laugh. Pushing out her chest, she tossed back stragglers from her ash-brown ponytail. "What, with all my stylish locks and hefty bosom?" Then she muttered, "Although, based on his past girlfriends, I suppose that's all it would take."
"No, I mean—you both love baseball. Chat about that."
Jo raised a brow at her.
"Please," Maddie begged. "You came by to help me get ready, didn't you? So, help me."
"Why not just tell him and get it over with?"
"Because you know how he feels about my dating." A distraction from her future, he called it. The same theory he applied to his own career.
"Maddie. This isn't just about any guy."
"I know, I know, and I'll come clean. But not yet."
A knuckle-rap sounded on her door. "You in there?"
She sang out, "Hold on a minute," and met Jo's eyes. "Please."
Jo hesitated before releasing a sigh that said Maddie would owe her one. A big one.
"I'll come right back," Maddie promised, "once I head Lane off down the block."
After a grumble, Jo pasted on a smile, wide enough for a dentist's exam, and flung open the door. "TJ," she exclaimed, "how 'bout that streak of DiMaggio's, huh?"
Behind his umber bangs, his forehead creased in puzzlement. "Uh, yeah. That was ... somethin'." His hand hung from a loop of his cuffed jeans. Nearly four years of wash and wear had frayed the patch on his USC Baseball sweatshirt. Its vibrancy had long ago faded, just like TJ's.
Diverting from Jo's unsubtle approach, Maddie asked him, "Didn't you have to work tonight?"
"I was supposed to, but Jimmy needed to switch shifts this weekend." His cobalt gaze suddenly narrowed and gripped hers. "You going somewhere special?"
"What?" She softly cleared her throat before thinking to glance down at her flared navy dress, her matching strappy heels. She recalled the pin curls in her auburn, shoulder-length do. The ensemble didn't spell out a casual trip to a picture show.
Jo swiftly interjected, "There's a new hot jazz band playing at the Dunbar. They say Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday might even be there. I'm dragging Maddie along. A keen study in music. You know, for her big audition."
"I thought you were practicing tonight," he said to Maddie.
"I am—I will. After we get back."
"You two going alone?"
"We'll be fine." As everything would be, if he'd let up long enough.
"All right," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'll just grab a bite in the kitchen then come along."
Maddie stifled a gasp. "No, really. You don't have to."
"At the Dunbar? Oh yeah I do."
Criminy. Was he going to hold her hand as they crossed the street to reach the bus stop too?
"TJ, this is ridiculous. I'm nineteen years old. Dad used to let us go out all the—"
He lashed back with a fistful of words. "Well, Dad's gone, and I'm not him. You don't like the deal, you can stay home."
Stunned, Maddie stared at him. He'd spoken the word gone as though their father had died along with their mother.
Jo waved her hands, shooing away the tension. "So it's settled. We'll all go together." Maddie widened her eyes as Jo continued, "And hey, while he's eating, you'll have time to drop off your neighbor's letter. The one the postman delivered by accident."
The letter ...?
Confusion quickly gave way to disappointment. Maddie now had an excuse to sneak out, but only to cancel rather than delay her date with Lane. She hated the prospect of missing one of his rare visits from school.
On the upside, in two weeks he would be back for winter break, offering more opportunities for quality time together.
"Fine, then," she snipped at her brother. "Come if you want."
What other choice did she have?
While Jo bombarded TJ with questions about the World Series, Maddie strode down the hall. Her urge to sprint mounted as she recalled the time. She made it as far as the bottom step when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" She rushed to the entry. Hoping to prevent the disaster from worsening, she opened the door only halfway. Yet at the greeting of Lane's perfect white smile, all her worries evaporated like mist. The warm glow of the portico light caressed his short black hair and olive skin. Shadows swooped softly from his high cheekbones. His almond-shaped eyes, inherited from his Japanese ancestors, shone with the same deep brown that had reached out and captured her heart the first time he'd held her last spring, an innocent embrace that had spiraled into more.
"Hi, Maddie," he said, and handed her a bouquet of lavender lilies. Their aroma was divine, nearly hypnotic, just like his voice.
But then footsteps on the stairs behind her sobered her senses.
"You have to go," was all she got out before TJ called to him.
"Tomo!" It was the nickname he'd given Lane Moritomo when they were kids. "You didn't tell me you were coming home."
The startle in Lane's eyes deftly vanished as his best friend approached.
Maddie edged herself aside. Her heart thudded in the drum of her chest as she watched Lane greet him with a swift hug. A genuine grin lit TJ's face, a rare glimpse of the brother she missed.
"I'm only in till tomorrow," Lane told him. "Then it's straight back for classes." Though several inches shorter than TJ, he emitted a power in his presence, highlighted by his tailored black suit.
"Term's almost over," TJ remarked. "What brought you back?"
"There was a funeral this afternoon. Had to go with my family."
Surprisingly, TJ's expression didn't tense at the grim topic. Then again, Lane always did have the ability—even after the accident—to settle him when no one else could. "Anyone I know?"
"No, no. Just the old geezer who ran the bank before my dad. Came away with some nice flowers at least." Lane gestured to the lilies Maddie had forgotten were in her grip. "Priest said they didn't have space for them all."
TJ brushed over the gift with a mere glance. "I was gonna take the girls to some jazz joint. Any chance you wanna come?"
"Sure. I'd love to," he said, not catching the objection in Maddie's face.
Her gaze darted to the top of the staircase, seeking help. There, she found Jo leaning against the rail with a look that said, Ah, well, things could be worse.
And she was right. Before the night was over, things could get much, much worse.
Chapter TwoCigarette smoke at the Dunbar swirled, adding to the fog of Lane's thoughts. Since arriving, he had been struggling to keep his focus on the Negroes playing riffs onstage. Now, with TJ off fetching drinks, he could finally allow his eyes to settle on the profile of Maddie, seated across from him. Her jasmine perfume, while subtle, somehow transcended the wafts of beer and sweat in the teeming club.
From above the bar, blue lights danced over the crowd united in music and laughter—racially integrated, as the entire world would be when Lane was done with it—and rippled shadows across Maddie's face. The narrow slope of her nose led to full lips, moist with a red sheen. Her hazel eyes studied the musicians with such intensity that he chose to merely watch her.
Amazing that he'd known her for more than half his life, yet only months ago had he truly begun to see her. The ache to touch her swelled, along with a desire to make up for lost time. He reached over and brushed the back of her creamy hand resting on their cocktail table.
She jolted, her trance broken. "Sorry," she said, and returned his smile.
"Pretty good, isn't he?" Lane indicated the saxophonist. The long, haunting notes of "Summertime" made the guy's talent obvious even to Lane.
"Yeah, I suppose."
"You don't think so?"
"No, I do. It's just—the structure's so loose, with all those slurs, and the downbeat going in and out. Plus, the key changes are too quick to feel grounded. And during the chorus, his timing keeps—" She broke off, her nose crinkling in embarrassment. "Gosh, listen to me. I sound like a royal snob, don't I?"
"Not at all."
She exaggerated a squint. "Liar."
They both laughed. In truth, he could listen to her talk forever. "God, I've missed you," he said to her.
"I've missed you too." The sincerity in her voice was so deep, he could lose himself in that sound for days. But a moment later, she glanced around as if abruptly aware of the surrounding spectators, and her glimmering eyes dulled, turned solid as her defenses. She slid her hand away, sending a pang down his side.
He told himself not to read into it, that her aversion to a public show of affection wasn't a matter of race. She was simply fearful of jeopardizing her relationship with her brother. Understandable, after all she had been through.
"So," she said. "Where did Jo go?"
"To the ladies' room."
Awkwardness stretched between them as the song came to a close. They joined in with a round of applause. When the next ballad began, it occurred to him that a slow dance would be their only chance for a private, uninterrupted talk. His only chance to hold her tonight. He gestured to the dance floor. "Shall we?"
"I ... don't think we should."
"Maddie, your brother won't get any ideas just because—"
A booming voice cut him off. "Evenin', sweet cakes." The guy sidled up to the table near Maddie, a familiar look to him. Beer sloshed in his mug, only two fingers gripping the handle. He had the sway of someone who'd already downed a few. "Fancy seeing you here."
Maddie shifted in her seat, her look of unease growing. "Hi, Paul."
Now Lane remembered him. Paul Lamont. The guy was a baseball teammate of TJ's, ever since their high school years, subjecting Lane to occasional encounters as a result. Even back then, the towhead had carried a torch for Maddie subtle as a raging bonfire.
"What do you say?" Paul licked his bottom lip and leaned on the table toward her. "Wanna cut a rug?"
"C'mon, doll. You don't wanna hurt my feelings, do ya?"
Lane couldn't hold back. "I think the lady's answered."
Paul snapped his gaze toward the challenge. He started to reply when recognition caught. "Well, lookee here. Lane Moratoro." Beer dove from his mug, splashed on Lane's dress shoes.
"It's Moritomo." Lane strove to be civil, despite being certain the error was purposeful.
"Oh, that's right. Mo-ree-to-mo." Then Paul yelled, "Hey, McGhee!"
A guy standing nearby twisted around. His fitted orange shirt and broad nose enhanced his lumberjack's build. "Yeah, what?"
"Got another rich Oriental here who wants to rule our country. Thinks he's gonna be the first Jap governor of—no, wait." Paul turned to Lane. "It's a senator, right?"
Lane clenched his hands under the table. "Something like that." Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed Maddie shaking her head in a stiff, just-ignore-him motion.
Paul's lips curled into a wry grin. "Well, in that case, maybe you can help a local citizen out." He put an unwelcome hand on Lane's shoulder. "See, my pop's been truck farming for twenty-some years, working his fingers to the bone. But wouldn't you know it? Jap farmers round here just keep undercutting his damn prices. So I was thinkin', when you're elected senator you could do something about that." His mouth went taut. "Or would your real loyalty be with those dirty slant eyes?"
Lane shot to his feet, tipping his chair onto the floor. He took a step forward, but a grasp pulled at his forearm.
"Lane." It was Maddie at his side. "Let it go." The lumberjack squared his shoulders as she implored, "Honey, forget him. He's not worth it."
At that, Paul's glance ricocheted between her and Lane. He scoffed in disbelief. "Don't tell me you two are ..."
Lane knew he should deny it for Maddie's sake, yet the words failed to form. Again, her touch slipped away, leaving the skin under his sleeve vacantly cold.
Paul snorted a laugh, thick with disgust. "Well, Christ Almighty. Who'd a thought."
Lane's nails bit into his palms. He felt his upper back muscles gather, cinching toward the cords of his neck.
"We got a problem here?" TJ arrived at the scene and put down their drinks.
"Everything's great," Maddie announced. "Isn't it, fellas."
Jitterbug notes failed to cushion their silence.
"Paul?" TJ said.
Paul nodded tightly and replied, "Just fine, Kern. I'm surprised, is all. Figured you'd be more selective about who made moves on your little sister."
TJ's face turned to stone. "What are you sayin'?"
Once more, a denial refused to budge from Lane's throat.
"What, you didn't know either?" Paul said, but TJ didn't respond. With a glint of amusement, Paul shook his head, right as Jo returned to their table. "Goes to prove my point," he went on. "Every one of them filthy yellow Japs is a double-crosser, no matter how well you think you—"
His conclusion never reached the air. A blow from TJ's fist stuffed it back into the bastard's mouth. Paul's beer mug dropped to the floor, arcing a spray across strangers' legs. Shrieks outpoured in layers.
A wall of orange moved closer; McGhee the lumberjack wanted in on the action. Lane lurched forward to intervene. Diplomacy deferred, he shoved the guy with an adrenaline charge that should have at least rocked the guy backward, but McGhee was a mountain. Solid, unmovable. A mountain with a punch like Joe Louis. His hit launched a searing explosion into Lane's eye socket.
The room spun, a carousel ride at double speed. Through his good eye, Lane spied the ground. He was hunched over but still standing. He raised his head an inch and glimpsed TJ taking an uppercut to the jaw. TJ came right back with a series of pummels to Paul's gut.
Lane strained to function in the dizzy haze, to slow the ride. He noted McGhee's legs planted beside him. The thug motioned for Lane to rise for a second round. Before going back in, though, Lane was bringing support. His fingers closed on the legs of a wooden chair. He swung upward, knocking McGhee over a table and into a stocky colored man, who then grabbed him by the orange collar.
"Cops!" someone hollered.
And the music stopped.
"Let's scram, Tomo!" In an instant, TJ was towing him by the elbow. They threaded through the chaos with Maddie and Jo on their heels. They didn't stop until reaching an empty alley several blocks away.
Excerpted from Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris Copyright © 2012 by Kristina McMorris. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story takes you from Los Angeles, to the dust of Manzanar, to a B-17 bomber over Hawaii, to a banzai charge in the Aleutians, to a critical moment in the Philippines. The research is impeccable, the characters are realistically drawn and thoroughly relatable, and the story is gripping. I highly recommend this novel.
WOW!!!! This was a GREAT book. First I have to say to Kristina “I forgive you” Okay back to the review. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is such an emotional book. When you think it can’t get any worst it does. Kristina does a wonderful of sucking us into the world that she has created. A world that revolves around a set of kids and one horrible event. Pearl Harbor. It is truly amazing how people were treated back then. The struggle that these kids have to go through on a daily basis makes me realize that we should all be thankful for the things we have in our life. I loved every page of this book. Yes, Kristina every page!!! Kristina thank you so very much for allowing me to read and review your book for you. I look forward to see what you come up with next. If you love historical I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this book!!! Oh and please have some tissues.
After suffering the loss of her mother, Maddie Kern is about to audition for Julliard. Her future is full of music and promise. She lives in California with her older and very protective brother TJ who is now watching over her, while their dad is unable to face the reality of his wife's death. Maddie is secretly in love with Lane Moritomo, TJ’s best friend and is planning on keeping it all hush hush until the right time. What could be wrong with that? They are young, in love and have their whole lives ahead of them. When Lane’s parents unexpectedly tell him a Japanese matchmaker has found him a match and he will marry in the next few months. With news of an impending marriage the couple runs off and elope. When they wake up the next morning, not only has their world chanced but the world around them has changed with the news Perl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. Lane, his family and other Japanese immigrants all over the country are suddenly looked at as the enemy. TJ angry at his best friend and mad at his sister joins the war effort and enlists. Lane’s family loses everything and heads off to a relocation camp, after realizing they can't survive. Lane determined to do right by Maddie leaves her behind. But now Maddie is viewed as a traitor by those around her and she no longer seems to fit anywhere. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves follows Maddie, TJ and Lane through WWII. Maddie goes off with Lane’s family where his mother is less than enthusiastic to have her around. TJ and Lane both become soldiers. I would say this is the most moving novel I have ever had the pleasure to read. I immediately loved Lane, he was so sweet and thoughtful. The whole world was placed on his shoulders. He went through the entire novel always with purpose and thoughtfulness of those around him, a true hero. Maddie and the rest of the characters grew with each passing page, until I loved each and every one of them and their stories. Bridges of Scarlet Leaves had me reaching for my box of Kleenex more than once. A war/love story like none I’ve read before. It’s filled with tradition, honor, triumph and tragedies. I strongly strongly recommend Bridges of Scarlet Leaves.
This was a very well researched and beautiful love story set in WWII. I have to admit that it did take me a few chapters before I was really hooked. I was slightly worried that the story was going to be a bit of a light read, and I originally felt that there was not enough factual information to make a compelling story. But as I continued on with the book, it really came through for me.This is the story of Maddie and her brother T.J. They are both still dealing with the aftermath of their mom's death. T.J. is angry at his dad and blames him, while Maddie eventually finds love and comfort in the arms of T.J.'s Japanese school buddy, Tomo. Just as Maddie and Tomo elope, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Maddie decides to accompany Tomo and his family to a Japanese internment camp. T.J. enlists in the army and fights for his life first in a bomber plane and later as a POW. Tomo eventually finds himself in the Pacific as part of the war effort, too.Their is lots of tension, heartbreak, happiness, romance, fear at this point in the story. I am so glad that I stuck with the book because it was full of the historical information that I was hoping for. I appreciated the Author's Note at the end that included more historical information and the author's own personal reasons for writing this book. There were also some traditional Japanese recipes included. Well done love story on a very controversial time in US history.
BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES is a finely crafted saga about families affected by World War II and the internment of Americans of Japanese descent. McMorris takes important historical facts and weaves them into a fascinating story covering many facets of the lives of Japanese-Americans during this period. They must come to terms with a war against their homeland and their treatment as American citizens by their own government. Their neighbors must suddenly reevaluate their lifelong friendships. Is that family next door now the enemy? Before Maddie and Lane can settle into their new married life, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Maddie finds herself stuck between the two cultures. She is despised by many of her own people but not easily accepted by the Japanese, including her mother-in-law. Maddie¿s brother, TJ has been as close as a brother to her new husband, Lane, their entire lives. TJ is conflicted about their mixed race marriage and the bombing of Pearl Harbor only deepens his concerns causing a falling-out between the two. Lane has always considered himself strictly American and must come to terms with his Japanese heritage, first in the internment camp and later in the US Army.McMorris does a great job portraying the war scenes as well as the interpersonal relationships. Her characters are well developed and intriguing. The use of 1940¿s slang is a great addition to the dialog. The story is filled with love, hope and devastation. I highly recommend this book for everyone.Rating: 4.5Heat Rating: Mild: Mild detailed scenes of intimacy, mild violence or profanity.Reviewed By: Jeanne Stone-Hunter for My Book Addiction and More
American history class never talks about the fact that the US rounded up Japanese and Italian immigrants during WWII. It is woefully swept under the rug. It wasn't until I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet that I even knew about this black spot, how sad is that?! Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves again brings this travesty to light in the story of Lane and Maddie.This story stirs up so many emotions throughout the book. You root for Maddie and Lane even though you know that it won't be an easy road ahead for them. You root for TJ and hope that the chip on his shoulder some how gets removed. You have feelings of patriotism because Ms. McMorris brings you back to that time so vividly. And yet as you read about the travesties against the Japanese-Americans, you can't help but feel sick to your stomach. These were citizens of our country that were rounded up and treated like traitors for no reason at all, except because they were all of Japanese heritage.What I loved about this book was the growth and change that all the characters went through. Maddie had to become a young wife and daughter in law sooner than she would have liked. Lane had to take on the responsibilities of his family when his dad was taken away. TJ had been responsible for Maddie for so long he had forgotten what it was like to just look out for himself.I enjoyed reading how Maddie's relationship with her mother-in-lase Kumiko evolved over time. I loved how Kumiko became a woman who opened her heart instead of keeping it closed off. You came to respect who she was and why she was closed off after revealing something of her past.The book had one of three ways to end and I knew that Ms. McMorris wouldn't take the easy road. I'm not sure how she decided on the ending but it was the only ending that made sense. Did it break my heart? Absolutely. Was it realistic? Absolutely. It was the final chapter/final scene that had me bawling like a baby.It is obvious that Ms. McMorris did her research and this story meant a great deal to her. She is a wonderful storyteller and makes the time period come to life. I loved her infusion of various societal situations: the Japanese obsession with baseball and the Women's baseball league. Music is also a very important part of the book. It is what Maddie turns to when things in her life seems out of hand. It is was rescues her in some ways in the end of the book too.I will definitely be check out her novel Letters From Home at some point in the future. I can't recommend Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves enough for any one who enjoys a good WWII novel or just a wonderful family story.
About book:Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Julliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.My thoughts:Story: Epic.Writing: Thoughtful and thorough.Overall: Unputdownable.Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is an epic story. It is historical fiction and romance wrapped into one. It takes place during WWII and focuses on the Japanese interment camps in the US. We read about the experience of being forced to stay at these camps and how it affects the people that are interned, but also their loved ones on the outside. It is both riveting and heartbreaking to get through. I must admit that prior to this novel I had no idea such camps had ever existed - talk about lack of history in history class. Either way, I'm grateful that McMorris explored this subject and exposed us to an ugly truth in our history that I'm sure not many people are aware of (or at least that is what I hope, since I don't want to be the only ignorant one). Vivid in detail and rich in story, this novel showcases the impeccable and thorough research that McMorris undertook when she created this book. All of her hard work makes for an incredibly authentic read, that leaves you feeling as if you've stepped back in time and are present for the drama and struggles involved with living during WWII. You read about the difficult decisions people make: joining the Army to fight for their country, sacrificing your dreams to follow the man you love, and struggling to come to grips with being treated like an enemy in your own country. You can't help but get caught up in Maddie's, TJ's, and Lane's lives as they fight for the people they love in the only ways they know how. McMorris is able to mix history and romance so seamlessly, that you aren't even aware of the shift in story lines, because the writing is just that good.Told from three perspectives, we get a chance to peek inside each of these character's mind's and learn about what they are going through and their version of the truth. I actually like it when authors' use this tactic to tell a story - I feel it provides us with more insight and offers a much more layered feel to the story. And believe me, these are three characters that you want to know. They are complex, emotional and relatable - which makes them feel like people you might just know. Their internal and external struggles will tug at your heart strings and leave you an emotional mess. You want them to get what they want and you won't forget them anytime soon.McMorris has done an excellent job with this novel. From the characters, setting, and exploration of themes, such as love, patriotism, and family loyalty, you can't help but be impressed by her talent. I would most definitely recommend Bridge of Scarlet Leaves to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - check it out! You will not be disappointed!!
This is a historical fiction book about WWII, specifically about the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. I love WWII historical fiction but have not read much about the internment of Japanese Americans so I thought it would be interesting to get a glimpse of this side of the war. I also decided to read this book because I loved the author's previous book.At first I seemed to have a hard time connecting with the characters but as the book went on I definitely was able to connect with them. This book was well researched and beautifully written. I found myself really happy with the way it ended and was definitely shedding a few tears while reading the last couple chapters.I would recommend this book to fans of WWII historical fiction.[I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway, which in no way affects the content of my review.]
If I had to describe this book in two words it would be soul stirring. The author weaves a tale of love and loss, set during a very tumultuous time in our countries history.From the age of nine when Maddie Kern's father gave her a used violin it became her goal to enter into Juilliard. After the death of her mother, her father changed and her brother TJ started looking out for her, and thought that her dating anyone would be a distraction from her future plans. By the age of nineteen though she has fallen in love with Lane Moritomo , a handsome Japanese/American who also happens to be TJ's friend. They have kept their dating a secret though,and when Lane's parents inform him that they are arranging a marriage for him TJ and Maddie decide to elope, and then Pearl Harbor is bombed and their lives change forever!What an amazing story. It was easy to see that the author really did her research with this story, I actually felt like I was getting a history lesson while reading this remarkable story. I was often shocked and appalled at how Japanese/American's were treated, and that fact really hit home for me when the government went in and searched Lane's parents home and found his model plane diagrams, something so simple caused them to be treated as the enemy. Lane was such a wonderful character always looking out for everyone else, and the love story between him and Maddie was just amazing. This was such a thought provoking story that really captured my heart. I found myself thinking about the characters long after I finished the final page. I think this book would be a wonderful read for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction, and the discussion questions makes this book perfect for a group read. I also enjoyed reading the author's notes at the end of the story.Overall "Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves"is a must read story that I highly recommend.
This author has the uncanny knack of writing stories that are very easy to read and combine the elements of history and a romance with a profound sense of the era. The Japanese and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the mistrust and the prejudice that came from it are all brilliantly related here. The characters of Maddie and Lane are wonderful. This author puts one solidly back in this time period with a depth of feeling and emotion that is impressive. Anyone who liked her last book, Letters from Home, will love this one as well.
This is the second book I have read of Kristina McMorris, first one was Letters From Home , and I have to say I hope she keeps on writing. Her style of writing is so perfect with all the emotions, sights and a sense of the time of WWII are so spot on I felt I was there right in the story. Told with a wealth of knowledge of the era and the Japanese/Americans part in the war. A compassionate, heartfelt and at times sad but triumphant story of how war touches all sides not just ours. I got to feel what it was like for a Japanese/American in an internment camp, the racial slurs but most of all the love that was shown throughout the whole story. Parts of the story had me in tears but that is what a truly well told story is supposed to do..play with our emotions. If you are a WWII history buff or even if you are not, like me, this is a story not to be missed. I highly recommend it.
Kristina McMorris follows up the success of her first novel Letters from Home - a World War II piece - with her newly released novel that explores the effects of war from many points of view - Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.1941, California. Maddie Kern and her brother TJ are still reeling from the loss of their mother in a car wreck and the subsequent catatonic retreat of their father into a world of his own. TJ is bent on protecting his sister and making sure she succeeds in her music career. Maddie is afraid to tell him that she has fallen in love with his best friend - Lane Moritomo - an American born son of Japanese immigrants. Determined to be together, they run away to Seattle to elope. In Seattle is is legal for inter racial couples to be married, but not in California. Doesn't that just make you stop and think? Illegal for inter racial couples...Lane and Maddie are on their way home the next day when Pearl Harbor is bombed. And their world is torn apart. Lane's family is sent to the internment camps. (a side note - this was not confined to the US; the Canadian government also sent those of Japanese descent to camps. Eco-Activist David Suzuki was brought up in a camp) TJ impulsively joins the Army and Maddie - she wants to be with the husband she loves.Hate, bigotry, loyalty, duty, fear and the horrors of war are explored and juxtaposed with hope, love, determination, honor, friendship and forgiveness. McMorris examines these themes through the eyes of many characters, providing alternate viewpoints for each. TJ is full of anger and a character I discounted until later in the book. Maddie's best friend, co-workers and neighbours all have a different take. But it is Lane that suffered with the most. He is torn between his love for Maddie, his love for his sister, his sense of duty towards his family and his need to prove himself as a loyal American. He is seen as a traitor by both sides. Maddie suprised me many times - she was only nineteen when she married Lane. Her determination in this time period to go against the norm and follow her heart was stirring.McMorris takes many factual pieces of history and weaves them into her story. Japanese Americans who were in Japan when war was declared were conscripted and forced to fight against America. There were many American Caucasian wives who refused to leave their Japanese husbands and children and chose to live in the camps as well.While McMorris has based her book on a certain time period, as I was reading I thought - this story could be written about many time periods. The hate shown towards race, religion, beliefs and gender is unfortunately a story that continues to be written every day.Kristina McMorris injects a keen insight into Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. "As the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father and Caucasian American mother, Kristina grew up living between these two cultures. Through Bridge of Scarlet Leaves she hopes to share with readers a unique perspective of an intriguing, and often tragic, portion of our country's history, while also honoring a diverse range of quiet heroes."And that she has. I very much enjoyed Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. Those who enjoyed Kristin Hannah's or Sarah Jio's latest books will enjoy this title.
I loved this book more than I thought I would. It was romantic and inspirational and I learned some things about the Japanese internment, as sad as it was, that I did not know. I would recommend it to high school kids as a history lesson. Yes, I would definately read more of Kristina McMorris's books.
This story kept me interested from beginning to end! I grew up in Southern California so knew some of the history of how the Japanese Americans were treated during the war. I loved the main character Mattie, she had so much on her plate yet managed it all, admirable woman! Good story.
Readable but plot predictable. Flat characters development Not my favorite but ok.
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves tells the story of two families, the Kerns and the Moritomos. Maddie and her brother TJ live in the family house (their mother is dead and their father is in a nursing home). TJ aspires to be a pro-league baseball player after college while Maddie has her heart set on studying at the Julliard School of Music as a violinist. TJ's best friend is Lane Moritomo. We meet the three in Los Angeles in 1941. Maddie has been dating Lane in secret because he is first generation Japanese American. While society at that time accepts interracial friendships it generally frowns on those same friends entering into a romantic relationship. The truth of their hidden romance is brought to light when the three, accompanied by Maddie's friend Jo, attend a local club. There a drunken acquaintance accuses Maddie of crossing the line with Lane. Of course both Lane and TJ fight for Maddie's honor, her brother thinking the drunk was way off base. The next day, when Lane learns from his parents that a Japanese matchmaker is sending over a bride for him, he convinces Maddie that they should elope the following weekend. So with suitcase in hand, Maddie lies to her brother about her destination and gets on a train that brings her to Lane and a civil ceremony that unites them as husband and wife. Later, on their way home to Los Angeles they learn that the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and that the country is at war. During the trip they begin to experience first hand the fear that grips the country when they are told to leave a restaurant simply because of Lane's distinguishing Asian features. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Lane goes to his family's home only to find that his father, a respected banker, is being arrested and his mother and little sister are being harassed. Maddie too returns home to face the wrath of her brother. They live separated for a while as they try to figure things out. Lane and his family are rounded up with other Japanese Americans and bussed out to the desserts of New Mexico and Arizona where they are taken to an internment camp. Under the ever watchful eyes of U.S. Army guards they are given barrack housing and put to work. A school is available for the children. But conditions are less than humane. Lane is now the head of his family and must watch over them. That is when Maddie, who convinces the powers that be that she is pregnant with a Japanese child, willingly enters the camp to live with Lane's family. Thankfully her brother TJ has joined the Air Force and is not there to stop her. What happens over the course of the war is a black spot on the history of our country. The conditions of the camp, while better than those for prisoners of war, prove a hardship for these proud people. Gangs begin to run freely and threaten the more peaceful families. When Lane, in an effort to prove himself and his family as loyal Americans, joins the Army as a special translator these gangs terrorize the families of those men who have enlisted. In the end these families, Maddie and Lane's mother and sister among them, are transferred to another state where they stay until the war is over. TJ is taken prisoner in the Pacific Theater of War while Lane, thinking only of Maddie and the daughter she had borne, makes the ultimate sacrifice. This is a romance that transcends the lines of heritage and race. I truly enjoyed the story and felt personal connections with these characters. The characters themselves are well rounded and we see them each grow in different ways. A truly satisfying story, it provided for me knowledge about a period of time that is rarely heard of - the Japanese being rounded up like criminals simply because of who they were. I will say that I like Letters From Home (Ms. McMorris's first book) a little bit better than this one. That said, I can't give you a definite reason why although I've tried to think of one. For readers who enjoy the drama and intrigue of World War II with a bit of romance on the side, this book is a definite read. The soldier who returns home to claim his bride is there alongside the now-single parent of an interracial child. There are moments of lightness as well as scenes that will have you biting your nails. A solid story that you will certainly enjoy.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Another historical fiction that took me completely by surprise! Set in a time that I feel doesn't get too much press - the time after the attack on Pearl Harbor and about a group of people that felt discrimination but it isn't always publicized - the Japanese community. I was familiar with the the attack itself and what became after it, but only in a general history sense, definitely not the detail that is told through this interracial couple who defeat the odds.
In a heart wrenching and emotionally charged story, Kristin McMorris brings us a full circle glimpse at the intertwined lives of two families, one Caucasian and the other affluent Japanese American living in Los Angeles who find themselves torn by the events of internment during the tragedy of World War II. If this story does not find you brought to tears I do not know what will. During simpler times, Los Angeles in the fall of 1941 where neighbors all know each other and children of all ethnicities played together, the bond of friendship that started in childhood between TJ Kern and Lane Moritomo was not an alliance that would raise suspicion. Now, both young men head for the success in life promised by the hard work their studies in college would bring them. TJ as a pro baseball player, who currently pitcher on the varsity team at USC and Lane Moritomo his best friend, enrolled in college at Stanford; where Lane’s political aspirations hold promise he will be rewarded with an internship with a California Congressman who values his forward thinking ideas. However, the unforeseen factor in TJ’s life as unspoken head of the household (through makings not under his control), is his younger sister Maddie. Maddie, who at nineteen, gifted with the talent that holds promise of becoming a concert violinist in the symphony (if only she can obtain a scholarship to Julliard), centers TJ’s focus to ensure nothing will distract her from achieving this lofty goal. Nevertheless, fate has a way of interceding in all plans as Maddie and Lane have fallen in love and finds them hard pressed to keep their secret from everyone, including TJ. A spontaneous act of defiance against tradition turns into a pivotal life-altering event as the word spreads of the recent attack on Pearl Harbor. The answering actions befalling the country result in the rendering of the hard forged friendship between the two friends who once thought each other as brothers, thrusting Maddie into the position of having to chose between the two men that matter most to her. Will it ever be possible to mend the rift that now looms over them all, and if so at what cost?
BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES is a finely crafted saga about families affected by World War II and the internment of Americans of Japanese descent. McMorris takes important historical facts and weaves them into a fascinating story covering many facets of the lives of Japanese-Americans during this period. They must come to terms with a war against their homeland and their treatment as American citizens by their own government. Their neighbors must suddenly reevaluate their lifelong friendships. Is that family next door now the enemy? Before Maddie and Lane can settle into their new married life, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Maddie finds herself stuck between the two cultures. She is despised by many of her own people but not easily accepted by the Japanese, including her mother-in-law. Maddie’s brother, TJ has been as close as a brother to her new husband, Lane, their entire lives. TJ is conflicted about their mixed race marriage and the bombing of Pearl Harbor only deepens his concerns causing a falling-out between the two. Lane has always considered himself strictly American and must come to terms with his Japanese heritage, first in the internment camp and later in the US Army. McMorris does a great job portraying the war scenes as well as the interpersonal relationships. Her characters are well developed and intriguing. The use of 1940’s slang is a great addition to the dialog. The story is filled with love, hope and devastation. I highly recommend this book for everyone. Rating: 4.5 Heat Rating: Mild: Mild detailed scenes of intimacy, mild violence or profanity. Reviewed By: Jeanne Stone-Hunter for My Book Addiction and More
Meet siblings Maddie and TJ Kern – two teenagers struggling to survive since their mother’s passing and their father had a psychotic break. TJ is playing baseball in college and Maddie helps at the alternations shop the family owns, while practicing the violin to get into Julliard. TJ’s best friend, Japanese-American Lane, is away at college. Maddie and Lane have fallen in love, but have kept it a secret from big brother TJ. Lastly, there is Jo, Maddie’s best friend, the keeper of the hardware store, harboring a crush on TJ. . . It’s November, 1941. . . just a month before the four characters lives are changed forever. McMorris sets up the beginning of the novel nicely, showing the flame that is glowing between Maddie and Lane and the anger TJ faces daily due to the loss of their mother. The reader is shown the best friend relationship between TJ and Lane, never taking into consideration that Lane is a Japanese-American, but just his best pal. They are happy young adults, ready to start their lives in the world. . . Maddie and Lane secretly marry. Their first night together was heaven; however, that shatters the next day with the bombing of Pearl Habor. . . and everything changes. Lane’s family leaves, in hopes of avoiding the Japanese Internment Camps in Manzanar, CA. However, during this difficult war time, that doesn’t last long. TJ enlists. Maddie is left at home, still practicing to get into Julliard, spending her time with Jo, hoping to hear from Lane and praying daily for TJ’s safe return. This story is a story of love, heartbreak, loss forgiving and learning to live again. McMorris has done an excellent job researching the history of Pearl Harbor, WWII and all that history that went along with it! She has written a story that made me laugh along with the characters, yet I also cried for them as well. Sit back and enjoy your lesson in history while you watch this story unfold.
Maddie falls in love with Lane, her brother's best friend and a Japanese American. But her timing couldn't be worse. American is at war and all Japanese Americans are being sent to the relocation camps. It's a bitter sweet story of life, love and death. Most war stories don't end without someone dying. It's just part of the story. So I had a hard time getting started with this book. It was very well written, but I could sense some tough parts coming and I think I was dreading it a bit. The book is over 400 pages and if it's a depressing book it could have seemed never-ending. But the author had such a beautiful way of writing that I soon became immersed in the story and forgot my dread. People do die. It is a story about war after all. But it ends so beautifully that it doesn't leave you with a sense of sadness. This would make an excellent book club book. I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.