Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Last Year of the War: A Book Review

The internment camps set up by the U.S. during the Second World War are not often the subject of historical fiction, and even more rare is a novel that takes its structure from the internment of German-Americans along with those of Japanese ancestry.

Right from the start, author Susan Meissner has a strong premise that captures the reader's interest. Who knew, you might say as you begin the story, who knew that Germanic blood could see a family shipped off to a remote location.

From that beginning comes a tale of friendship between two girls who find themselves torn from all they knew as children growing up in typical American surroundings. Elise and Mariko become firm friends in the short period of time that they are together, their relationship beset by bigotry and the inability of Mariko's father to accept the fact that his American-born daughter is too American for his taste.

There is plenty of cultural conflict to propel the narrative, aided by the book's structure. The tale begins with Elise in the early stages of Alzheimer's, determined to relocate her dear friend after an absence of almost sixty years. The past and present intertwine as the reader discovers the reason for the rupture, the disruption created by deportation and personal struggles.

The novel is a compelling read, the sort of book you can't put down readily.

Thanks ever so much to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to discover a forgotten chapter in history.

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