Review: Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

@ Goodreads

 

Title: Garden of Stones

Author: Sophie Littlefield

Published: Harlequin MIRA Jan 2013

Synopsis: In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice Lucy Takeda is just fourteen years old, living in Los Angeles, when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are ripped from their home, rounded up-along with thousands of other innocent Japanese-Americans-and taken to the Manzanar prison camp.  Buffeted by blistering heat and choking dust, Lucy and Miyako must endure the harsh living conditions of the camp. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring beautiful, vulnerable Miyako. Ruined and unwilling to surrender her daughter to the same fate, Miyako soon breaks. Her final act of desperation will stay with Lucy forever…and spur her to sins of her own. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on December 29, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

When the police come to question Lucy Takeda regarding a murder, she is forced to reveal the past she has kept secret from her daughter for nearly forty years. In 1942, Lucy was an intelligent, pretty fourteen year old mourning the recent death of her father, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and all US residents with Japanese ancestry were forcibly ‘relocated’ to camps established for the duration of the war. Sent with her mother, the beautiful but mercurial, Miyako, to a camp in California’s desert, the mother and daughter are forced to endure the trials of corruption, injustice and tragedy.

Garden of Stones is a moving, emotional story of loss, prejudice, love and survival. Flashbacks reveal the harrowing experiences of Lucy and her mother in the poorly constructed and under resourced internment camp. While the prisoners did their best to create some semblance of a normal life during their interment, Littlefield describes overflowing toilets, badly prepared food and a shocking lack of privacy, conditions thousands of internee’s were forced to endure for years. It’s a confronting historical circumstance post-WW2 generations are largely ignorant of and the author portrays the situation with compassionate honesty.

After the shock of arrival at Manzanar, Lucy’s natural optimism and energy asserts itself and she works as a courier while attending the camp school. Still mired in grief it is weeks before Miyako, urged on by her sister in law, shakes of her debilitative depression to begin work as a seamstress in the camp factory. Lucy is overjoyed that her mother is finally adjusting to life within the camp until her innocence is shattered when she learns the emotionally fragile Miyako, is being forced to submit to the sickening desires of the camp officials. Unable to extricate herself from the officer’s attentions Miyako is led to commit a desperate act that will change everything for Lucy.

Lucy is such a lovely child, spirited, smart and resilient, so the contrast with her adult self in the dual time narrative is unbearably poignant, even though at times I felt it was intrusive. For Lucy’s daughter Patty, to whom Lucy is an enigma, understanding her mother’s early life becomes key to absolving her of the present murder. As she uncovers her mother’s past she is stunned by the revelations, though there are still many secrets that Lucy keeps, as a mother determined to protect her child.

Well written, with wonderful characterisation and an intriguing storyline, Garden of Stones is a heartbreaking, fascinating and poignant tale of struggle and survival whose bittersweet ending haunts you long after the final page is turned.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. parrish lantern
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 21:40:29

    With my love of japanese related stuff this sounds very interesting.

    Reply

    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jan 05, 2013 @ 14:29:57

      It would be interesting to see what you think Parrish since the author lists it as women’s fiction

      Reply

  2. Jennifer
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 02:48:29

    This is exactly the type of book I love! I’ll be looking for this one :) Thanks for the review!

    Reply

  3. Laura Fabiani
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 04:39:33

    This one sounds wonderful, although I have to be in the right mood to read books that are emotional and heartbreaking.

    Reply

  4. cassmob
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 09:02:23

    This book sounds so intriguing albeit heart-wrenching.

    Reply

  5. The Australian Bookshelf
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 11:13:24

    This sounds like quite a moving story, Shelleyrae. I’ve got a copy of this to read and now I’m even more intrigued to pick it up.

    Reply

  6. Mystica
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 17:31:06

    Sounds really good.

    Reply

  7. Kate Loveday
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 10:02:24

    This sounds very moving,

    Reply

  8. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 19:39:10

    I have this one to read, too, and it looks excellent. I’ll have to bump it up on my TBR after this review!

    Reply

  9. Teddyree
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 20:44:39

    I’ve got this one up next week, glad you enjoyed it so much!

    Reply

  10. Trackback: Review: A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley | book'd out

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