Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
Elise is an American with German parents. Mariko is an American with Japanese parents. These two girls develop a friendship in a most unlikely place, an internment camp in Texas. Both Mariko and Elise had to put their lives on hold and basically lose everything to go into the camp. Their friendship is about the only highlight in their lives. Then Elise and her family are exchanged for POWs. They are shipped back to war torn Germany. Mariko’s family is shipped back to Japan. Their lives change forever and they lose touch for many, many years.
The path Elise’s life took, through no decisions of her own, is really amazing. She is accustomed to the life of a young American girl and then she is shipped to Germany. She has to adjust to no food, bombing raids, and terror in her everyday life. She is torn away from her only friend, and Elise has no idea if Mariko is alive or dead. Then her life changes again when she meets a young GI.
This book takes you on a ride you won’t soon forget. There is so much I want to tell y’all about this book. This is a well written, well researched, historical tale about friendship, tragedy and human spirit. There are actually parts of this book I would love to quote. A fantastic read is an understatement.
I received this novel from Berkley Publishing via Netgalley for a honest review.