Under the Silk Hibiscus (Historical Fiction) by Alice J. Wisler is novel set at the start of WWII after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and all Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps for the duration of the war. Heart Mountain, Wyoming is where Nathan and his family are sent to from California. The father was taken away to a different camp and was only able to send a few letters to his family. Nathan Mori was the middle son, a teenager, who was devoted to his pregnant mother, protected his younger brother, battled back and forth with his testy aunt Kazuko and wondered why his older brother could charm all the girls. But Nathan was the most responsible and when his mother died after delivering her daughter, Nathan felt that he was the one who should care for the family in the absence of his father. The prized heirloom, a watch hidden in the silk hibiscus in his mother's suitcase, is stolen and Nathan is distraught. He goes to great lengths to find it and get it back which lands him in the interment camp prison. Nathan wants truth and justice and instead he is fighting to stay alive and protect his family. His one bright hope is Lucy who has the voice of an angel, but she leaves camp without a goodbye and when Nathan's family returns to San Jose he longs to find her once again.
This story was full of raw and quiet emotion. It is told from the perspective of teenage boy who longs to be the strong anchor for his family, but continues to be discouraged when he fails in keeping the family heirloom safe. When his family returns to San Jose and his father comes back nothing is the same. Nathan works hard to provide for the family and many surprising gifts are given to him along the journey. This is story of loss, betrayal, hope, freedom and love. It gives a grim look at the time in history when Japanese-Americans were treated poorly and left with nothing. Alice writes with heart and gives her characters depth and she also shares a real portrayal of what a family might have experienced at that time.
Visit Alice J. Wisler's blog and read the first chapter in Under the Silk Hibiscus.
*I received a complimentary copy of the pdf of this book for review. All opinions are my own.*