18 February 2013

Review: Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

Expected Publication: 19 February 2013 by Harlequin MIRA


Pages: 320 (paperback)


Genre/s: Historical Fiction


Source: Publisher for review


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.



My Thoughts


When I first picked up Garden of Stones, I thought the author's name sounded familiar, and it was only when I was more than halfway through that I realised she is the author of the zombie / post-apocalyptic Aftertime series.  I haven't read Aftertime, but I was impressed at how versatile an author Ms. Littlefield is - after all, zombies and historical fiction are two of my favourite genres but are as pretty much far apart as genre's can be.

Garden of Stones is not an overly sympathetic book.  There are some shocking events within the pages, a mystery and characters that are quite hard to break through the surface of, but Ms. Littlefield maintains an objective view without falling into dramatics.

The story is told in alternating POV's - Lucy's story just before, during and just after her internmet at Manzanar, and Lucy's daughter Patty's POV in the late 1970's.  Both are difficult characters to get to know - Lucy's experiences have made her a closed, secretive character, and although I didn't have a particular issue with Patty, I also didn't find her overly engaging, and it was only very late in the book that I actually liked her as a character.  However, Patty's part in the story is only as a connector, and the vast majority of the book is set in the 1940s.

But I can see what the author was trying to achieve with the characters, in creating an air of mystery it is inevitable that the characters are harder to get to know - it's not really possible to have one without the other.   Especially Lucy, it's not that she's an unlikeable character at all, and in fact is very brave and admirable, but forming a connection with her was difficult.

Overall I really enjoyed Garden of Stones, and reading about a subject that is not often explored in books, and Sophie Littlefield's storytelling matched perfectly with the plot and characters.

5 comments:

  1. I actually really enjoyed this book, but I know what you mean about the characters being hard to relate to. But I guess if Lucy was too relatable, than the impact of what happened in the internment would be lessened.

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    Replies
    1. Very true - although I could fully appreciate why she was the way she was, I'm nosy and wanted to know more :)

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  2. I'd probably buy the book just because it dares breach the subject of the American Internment camps. It's a shame not many people know about them since they don't get the Historical relevance they deserve. Anywho, I definitely be checking out Garden of Stones further. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. It's certainly a subject that really needs to be more prominent - it's quite a scary reflection of how a whole country can have a very knee-jerk reaction.

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  3. I am not familiar with her work but as far as this book is concerned wartime settings scare me. I don't know what id do if I'm caught in one.

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