Book Review: Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield

garden

Rating: 4.5 / 5

One morning the police question Lucy Takeda about the sudden death of Reg Forrest, strongly suspecting she had a hand in his death because two witnesses put her near the scene of the crime.  With Lucy, there is no question of mistaken identity, for she bears distinct scars on half of her face.  Although Lucy has claimed innocence of this crime, she is forced to reveal the secrets of her past to her daughter Patty.

In 1942, with her father recently passed away, Lucy is forced to relocate with her mother to Manzanar, a California internment camp that housed thousands of Japanese Americans during the war. The conditions at Manzanar are horrendous, and abuse and corruption run rampant.  Lucy’s mother, Miyako, graceful and known for her beauty, is repeatedly abused at Manzanar, and in order to protect Lucy, does something that alters Lucy’s life forever.

Sometimes I feel that the internment camps are one of America’s dirty little secrets.  Although tragic and unjust, it is rarely talked about, and I can’t remember learning about them in any history class. I’m glad that Littlefield has written about this subject, which is one of America’s worst moments, filled with racial prejudice, tragedy, and suffering.

Garden of Stones is sad.  It was heart wrenching to read what Miyako does in an attempt to protect her daughter.  Some readers might conclude that it was cruel, but even if it was cruel, it is hard not to sympathize with her plight and her instinct to keep her daughter from the same fate. The reader is left to wonder how Miyako’s actions permanently changed Lucy.  In the end, did she fail her daughter, or save her from a worse destiny?

Garden of Stone is profound and deeply moving.  On its surface, it is a mystery but quickly becomes so much more.  I can go on and on about this novel; as much as I’ve written about it, there was so much more to Lucy’s past that I didn’t even touch on or explore. I’m sure this is one of those novels that will stay with me for a while, and I highly recommend it to people who want something to mull over long after the last page is turned.

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