Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

What does it mean to be an American? What does it mean to be an American when your own country’s government distrusts you, mistreats you, and sends you to a relocation camp far from home?

Tomi Itano lives in California with her mother, her father, and her two brothers. Her father grows the best strawberries around. Tomi is a Girl Scout, and her older brother Roy plays clarinet in a high school band called the Jivin’ Five. Her little brother loves baseball. But all that all-American normality is about to change after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

Now Tomi’s jovial father is arrested as a spy, and Tomi, and her shy, reserved mother, and her brothers are sent first to a temporary camp in Santa Anita and then to Tallgrass, a made-up name for a Japanese relocation camp in Colorado (the real camp in the desert of Colorado was called Amache). Will Tomi’s mother, Sumiko, be able to take charge of the family while her father is away? Where is Tomi’s father, and when will he come back? Will Tomi learn to accept life at Tallgrass, or will she become bitter like others who only see the injustice of their situation and cannot seem to enjoy anything about their life as it is?

It’s another take on the Japanese internment camps, and I suppose it’s just as appropriate and needed as any other book on any other aspect of World War II, but I am growing tired of the sub-genre. Particularly, I am tired of books about the Japanese relocation camps that have nothing new to say about the admittedly shameful episode in American history. However, I am fifty-seven years old, and I’ve read about it all before. For a fictional introduction to the subject, this book was not bad at all. If it had been the first or even the second book I ever read about the Japanese internment camps, I probably would have liked it a lot more than I did.

See also:
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. (memoir)
Journey To Topaz: A Story Of The Japanese-American Evacuation by Yoshiko Uchida. (memoir)
The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson. (fiction)
Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler. (nonfiction)
I am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment by Jerry Stanley. (nonfiction)
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata. (fiction)
A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. (fiction)
Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss. (biography)
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. (memoir)
The Bracelet by Yoshido Uchida. (picture book fiction)

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