This is the official blog of Winna Efendi, author of several bestselling Indonesian novels.

Minggu, 04 Mei 2014

(book) Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield


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. 

Bestselling author Sophie Littlefield weaves a powerful tale of stolen innocence and survival that echoes through generations, reverberating between mothers and daughters. It is a moving chronicle of injustice, triumph and the unspeakable acts we commit in the name of love. 


I've never read anything written by Sophie Littlefield, but was intrigued by the story and rave reviews it's getting, so I decided to buy the book. I've always been drawn to war stories, especially victims of enslavement and concentration camps. It is also my first time knowing and reading about the Japanese eviction from their homes post-Pearl Harbour bombing, and there is something very tragic about leaving the only home you've ever known.

The story starts with Reg, who's bland and uninteresting, until the next chapter proves otherwise. I'm not a fan of flashbacks interwoven with the current present because I usually find the flashbacks more satisfying. This reminds me of Jodi Picoult's the Storyteller. But then I keep going, and am enthralled by Miyako and Lucy's world, how it begins and how it falls apart.

Sophie Littlefield's description is so vivid I can imagine what she's writing. Even though some descriptions are overdone that I want to skip them, they do help in building the setting and momentum. I can feel myself walking beside Lucy, or be in her shoes. The best and worst part is the explanation of the latrine in their new shelter - it makes me cringe and want to turn away just by reading the passages. She's that good, and that's one pleasure I take from reading this book.

The characters are flawed, often excessively so, and the author makes no excuses for what they do or why. I especially find Lucy's change a little jarring, if not excusable, but so far she's my favorite character in the book. The rest can be horrifying, but they're also facing their own demons, scarred in their own ways. I don't need to accept them, I just have to understand them.

The book makes me feel so many different emotions at once. The first two thirds of the book is amazing, and pages just flow by despite early hesitation. The last part is a little slow, and I almost lose interest after the climax, but I barrel through. There are twists at the end that I appreciate and do not see coming, but overall, although it tells a harrowing journey splendidly, I wish it's packed more punch. I'm not sure what's missing, but I lose my ability to connect with Lucy or any of the other characters as the story progresses.

However, I'll still recommend this book - it's quite amazing.

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