It hit me on the drive in to work today. What have I done? In the synopsis I originally presented in this blog, I told the ending to the book! My apologies to those of you who already read the original synopsis. Nothing worse than knowing how a story ends!
NOTE: The synopsis I originally posted here was written for agents and editors -- they do want and need to know the ending of the book.
So, now I have amended it, removing the thrill-packed conclusion. Guess you'll just have to stand in line with a throng of fans to find out! :-)
It is 1941, and racial tensions are rising toward Japanese-Americans in the California community where nine-year old SACHIKO KIMURA lives. She is torn between the Japanese culture her mother compels her to learn, and wanting to be “American” like the rest of her friends. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, the tensions erupt, and Sachi is even more confused over her identity as a Japanese-American.
One afternoon, two days before Christmas, Sachi is at the park with her papa, MICHIO KIMURA. While playing on the slide, she witnesses three teenage boys taunting and beating her father. She especially remembers the colored boy with hazel eyes, TERRENCE HARRIS. Sachi’s older brother, NOBU KIMURA, comes upon the park scene in time to catch his three friends in the act. They run, and Nobu cries out to them. How could they beat up his father? The Kimura's are informed of Papa's death the day after Christmas.
On the morning of the beating, Terrence’s family had received a telegram that his father was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a blind fury, he leaves his mourning mother’s side, searching for something to make him forget his pain. He comes across two high school friends who convince him the only thing that will help is to “get a Jap.” When they find the Japanese man in the park, they do not know it is Mr. Kimura, father of their friend, Nobu. The three assailants are arrested later that night.
The attorney assigned to Terrence’s case, EDWARD BLAKE, has sympathy for Terrence’s story, having lost his own father at the hands of the Germans in World War I. Terrence is convicted of manslaughter and spends two years in jail. Blake becomes his mentor and helps to pay his way through college.
In April 1942, the Kimura’s are sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center—a converted horse race track. There, Sachi experiences her mother’s first outward discrimination, when she forbids Sachi to be friends with a boy of lower social class. But Sachi believes that attitude makes her mother as wrong as those who put them in the camp, and disregards her mother’s authority.
Several months later, Sachi and her family are transferred by train to the War Relocation Center in Rohwer, Arkansas, where Sachi develops a friendship with JUBIE LEE FRANKLIN, a local colored girl. But, as Sachi learns acceptance and forgiveness, Nobu and Mama become more embittered by events of racism toward Japanese-Americans.
In March, 1943, Nobu’s resentment over the United States’ treatment of its Japanese-American citizens leads him to become a “No No Boy,” when he answers “no” to the two questions on the loyalty questionnaire given to internees: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? And, Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attacks by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or other foreign government, power or organization? He is categorized as “disloyal,” and like thousands of others, is sent away to Tule Lake, a maximum-security camp. Sachi and Mama remain at Rohwer.
Terrence is released from prison in January, 1944, and shortly after, passes his entrance exam into the University of California. With the prompting and encouragement of Mr. Blake, Terrence has become interested in civil rights, and pursues a law degree.
The World War II years, internment and an unexpected event affect Sachi and Nobu differently, and their lives take separate directions when the war ends.
Will Nobu be able to forgive the way Japanese Americans were treated?
Will Sachi's and Nobu's close relationship remain unchanged?
What is the surprise event?