Dust of Eden

Dust of Eden

by Mariko Nagai


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807517383
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 10/01/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 236,104
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Mariko Nagai was born in Tokyo and raised in Belgium and the United States, where she graduated from NYU's creative writing program. She has received numerous awards and fellowships for her poetry and short stories, including the Pushcart Prize in both fiction and poetry. She teaches creative writing at Temple University in Japan. This is her first book for children.

Read an Excerpt


    Seattle, Washington

    October 1941

    The house is surrounded by roses
    The living room is a mixture of East
    Grandpa is a rose breeder.
    Mother sits in the kitchen, always singing.
    My brother Nick's room next to mine is filled
    He speaks to us in Japanese, my parents speak
    December 1941

    I was singing with the Sunday school
    all our mouths opening and closing as one
    We were singing "Silent Night, Holy
    their lowest key, the door burst
    The next note lay waiting
    the O shape, when a man yelled, the Japs bombed
    The next words got lost. Oh, oh, oh,
    coming out of my mouth,
    And the world started again
    December 1941

    Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces
    Jamie, my best friend, yells out, "Shut your
    bouncing like a ball in my head.
    Arts class, the entire class gets quiet.
    like she's been talking about me,
    She clears her voice; she calls
    right after Marcus Springfield.
    And instead of calling out Joshua
    about what happened yesterday.
    at my hands, then at the swirling
    yellowish against the dark brown
    right near it. Jap-nese, Mrs. Smith
    Harbor. Jap-nese have broken
    Even the newspaper that Father works for screams in
    I feel everyone's eyes on me. I hear
    Jap Mina. I'm not
    I am an American, I scream
    with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue
    every morning and every night. My body is heavy.
    December 1941

    We are not Americans, the eyes tell us.
    We are the enemy aliens, the Japs,
    Pearl Harbor, killing so many soldiers
    morning in Hawaii, who were waking
    Death to Japs, they say. The voice
    a pause between Jap
    Mother walks down Main Street with her head
    men spit at her and women hiss
    sesuji o nobashina-sai.
    good girl), Mother says as she pulls
    one by one, stretching her fingers
    Masa-chan, tebukuro
    sahou ni kibishii kara.
    are strict with manners), Mother says
    We pass by the stores that sell
    Patriotic Americans, says a sign on the window.
    flakes. If I could, I would keep
    and tear off Masako Tagawa like the
    out that Nick Freeman liked Alice
    blond that changes into lighter
    just like Jamie's. If I could change
    I could change my life: I would be an American.
    December 1941

    We're best friends, no matter what, Jamie
    tree together. We're best friends until
    She hands me a small packet wrapped
    Open it, open it, she urges. Mr. Gilmore's humming
    the backyard, and Mrs. Gilmore's baking
    We sit under a big Christmas tree lit by small twinkling
    A package the size of my palm, so light like a butterfly;
    I undo the ribbon gingerly, then unfold the red
    a jagged half of a heart. She pulls her sweater
    And whenever we are together, we have a whole heart.

    December 1941

    When I come home, the house is quiet.
    Mother is not home, where she always is,
    her hands and a glass of milk for me.
    out, rice scattered all over the kitchen
    with cloth strewn all over the floor
    left town. A note, I will be back soon,
    pinned to the door like a dead butterfly.
    too late for a glass of milk and cup of tea,
    looking like they are carrying the night
    from the weight they drag through
    they said they are from the government;
    answer some questions,
Mother says quietly
    throwing her weight down. When is he coming home?
    to Grandpa, pressing his body so close that his tail
    skinny body. I'm not sure, honey, I'm just
    Grandpa takes his owl-like glasses off slowly,
    of his hand like he was pressing down the dirt
    on his rocking chair. Mother leans back, too.
    through my head, forgetting about milk,
    history homework, thinking only about Father
    January 1942

    This year, there wasn't a
    January 1942

    Father looks small
    January 1942

    Every time I walk down the hall
    February 1942

    Dear Father, I hope

Excerpted from "Dust of Eden"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Mariko Nagai.
Excerpted by permission of Albert Whitman & Company.
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.

Table of Contents

Part I. Seattle, Washington,
Part II. "Camp Harmony" Puyallup Assembly Center, Puyallup, Washington,
Part III. Minidoka Relocation Center Hunt, Idaho,
Part IV. Minidoka Relocation Center Hunt, Idaho,
About the Japanese American Internment,

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Dust of Eden 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
“The government took away our names, our houses, and most importantly, our dignity.” I liked the idea that this book was written in verse. Writing in verse in difficult for some individuals but for others it is easy as the sentence structure is emotional, it flows and its structure can be short or long. Since this book is narrated by thirteen year-old Mina Tagawa, I liked to think that her emotions were driving her to write and thence, the words flowed out onto the page with true emotion. Mina’s life would change suddenly as Pearl Harbor and the war became reality. Mina and her family’s mundane life were shattered. Being Japanese- American’s they were now being ridiculed and humiliated. Driven from Seattle, the family and other Japanese-American families arrive at a camp which reminds Mina of the concentration camps that Mina read about in school. You feel the desperation and the confusion that Mina senses as she tries to understand why this is happening. She is an American, why should not be treated? This is not fair. This is not the American way. This novel is short but it drives a hard punch at the life of the many Japanese-Americans who were isolated and cast-aside. Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book.