Review: A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley

 

 

Title: A Girl Like You

Author: Maureen Lindley

Published: Bloomsbury July 2013

Status: Read from July 18 to 19, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

If I hadn’t read Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield late last year, I suspect I would have found A Girl Like You more affecting. Instead, my reaction to this story of loss, prejudice, love and survival is somewhat blunted by the similarities in the plot and characters between the two novels.

In A Girl Like You we are introduced to thirteen year old Satomi Baker and her family who live in a rural town on the coast of California. Satomi’s father, Aaron, is a white American who met her Japanese mother, Tamura, in Hawaii. With both families disapproving of their relationship, Aaron and Tamura moved to a farm in Angelina, where Satomi was born. Though Tamura has never been welcomed whole heartedly by the small town community as the threat of WW2 escalates, she and Satomi are ostracised, despite Aaron having volunteered to serve with the US Army and becoming a victim of the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Satomi, who considers herself American, is a feisty, precocious teenage who rebels against her father’s strict rules. Though she acknowledges she is different to her peers she doesn’t want to be and as the town begins to turn on Satomi and her family, she is hurt and angry.

Identity is an important theme explored in A Girl Like You, Satomi struggles with being half Japanese and the ways in which it makes her different from her peers, despite identifying as an American. Satomi is also in the grip of adolescence and trying to decide who she wants to be and what she wants for her future.

Shortly after Pearl Harbour, Tamura and Satomi are forcibly relocated to Manzanar, a government internment camp in Nevada for all those with Japanese ancestry. While the prisoners did their best to create some semblance of a normal life during their interment, Manzanar is characterised by poor sanitation, badly prepared food and substandard housing – little more than stalls, conditions thousands of internee’s were forced to endure for years. The Japanese were watched over by armed guards, afforded little health care or educational or employment opportunities. It’s a confronting historical circumstance post-WW2 generations are largely ignorant of and one which Lindley illustrates well.
Eventually the camps are emptied and the orphaned Satomi, whose family property and possessions have been ‘appropriated’ in their absence chooses to make a fresh start in New York. It is as Satomi remakes herself in New York that this novel fell apart somewhat for me, the focus switches to romantic developments which I found less compelling and somewhat trivial.

A Girl Like You is an appealing, poignant and fascinating story combining a moving coming of age tale with historical and social commentary. Though I can’t help comparing it to Littlefield’s Garden of Stones due to the strong similarities, it does so favourably and I’d be happy to recommend it.

 

Available to Purchase from

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. readerbuzz
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 22:58:44

    I hate it when I read books with similar themes close together. One is inevitably disappointing.

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Jul 23, 2013 @ 17:36:24

      They actually came out fairly even I think Nancy though if you have read one, I wouldn’t recommend the other

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      Reply

  2. Patty
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 23:41:27

    Totally agree with readerbuzz but this still sounds good!

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    Reply

  3. Melinda
    Jul 25, 2013 @ 00:20:17

    This does sound like it could be a nice review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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    Reply

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