One of my favorite book reviewers joins us again today with another amazing review. Here’s Jean:
Readers of WWII fiction will devour Kristina McMorris’ Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.” – Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author.
I could not agree more. Since reading Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand last year, I have been reading almost all historical fiction. When I read Jenna Blum’s review I knew I was going to love this book, not only is it historical fiction, but set during WWII, just like Unbroken. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves was an amazing and unpredictable story, yet incredibly realistic and backed by historical research.
Maddie Kern was headed for Julliard, enjoying life with her brother and attempting to persevere after a huge family tragedy. She never expected to fall in love with a family friend, the son of Japanese immigrants. They had just planned the rest of their lives, following their dreams, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. As chaos consumes the world around them, they struggle to make sense of their future.
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves covers so many themes and causes a lot of introspection. There is a focus on family, not wrapped up perfectly in a bow, or involving secrets and drama, but in a realistic way. Kristina McMorris’ authentic character development of several protagonists, takes the reader on numerous journeys. The families live through genuine tragedies, celebrations, separation, and reuniting. Through it all, the strength of family bond, both blood and not, prevail. I found myself often thinking about what was important in life, what I should be truly thankful for while reading the family plights. Several times, characters find the good in someone else, see the other person’s predicament and put their own feelings aside.
One other main theme throughout Bridge of Scarlet Leaves was overcoming cultural differences. During WWII Japanese Americans were persecuted severely, which most people don’t know about or realize occurred, and to what extent. Even before the start of the war, interracial relationships were heavily frowned on in some areas, and actually illegal in most. My husband and I are interracial so this theme meant a lot to me. I understood just the tiniest bit of how those who accepted the multiracial friendships and relationships felt. The looks and unhanded comments must have been hard to ignore and overcome.
Since the fabulous host of Great Thoughts loves quotes, I wanted to add a few of my favorite, most thought provoking from Bridge of Scarlet Leaves:
“But confidence could be a tricky thing. It lasted only if the person either had forgotten or didn’t realize what they stood to lose.”
“Such power lay in a single syllable. Yes. Scarcely a word, a reverse gasp really, it was an answer capable of forever altering the landscape of a person’s life.”
“A coward…doesn’t sacrifice his own worth for the well-being of others.”
“Maybe it’s not about starting over…How can we really break from the past? It’s what made us who we are. The people we loved, all the laughs, even the tears. Those things will always be part of us.
“(Name omitted so it won’t spoil!) didn’t have to hear them to know what they were saying. An interracial child spurred plenty of attention, even after the war. (Name) prayed nightly that societal acceptance would evolve long before her daughter could comprehend her differences.”
“We’re no different now, you and I. Our loved ones fought, and sacrificed, for the same cause.”
Kensington Books provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
What are you reading and where are you going?