For many years, I've been looking for a book about WWII that tells what it was like from a Japanese-American perspective. I've found a few that, while they are decent books, didn't fulfill what I was looking for. Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury gives the perspective I was looking for. Although he is not Japanese-American, he was raised in Hawaii and understands the racial issues that face our Island State.
His book shows what is might have been like for Japanese-Americans living on Oahu when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
The characters seem real and their development over the course of the story is good. I loved the values instilled in the main character, Tomi, by his father. When faced with a choice, the words of his father often come into his mind. When he fights with a boy, his father asks him, "Whatever you think about that boy - do you want people to get that same thing in their minds when they think of Tomikazu Nakaji?" (15). He tells him that he must not be a troublemaker and bring shame on their family.
When Japan attacks the island, Tomi's family feels that Japan has disgraced their good name and brought shame upon them.
This story written in 1994 shows how fear compels people to make poor choices. It shows the danger of over-reacting and judging a group of people based on a the actions of some.
This story also shows the importance of good friends and the strength of family.
Blurb from his website on the book that has won many, many awards:
December 7, 1941 - Tomikazu and his best friend Billy are playing baseball in a field near their homes in Hawaii when Japan launches a surprise attack on the US at Pearl Harbor. As Tomi looks up at the sky and recognizes the Blood-Red Sun emblem on the fighter planes, he knows that his life has changed forever. Torn between his love of all things American and the traditional ways of his parents and Grampa, Tomi feels frightened and ashamed of his native land. Tomi’s friendship with Billy is soon tested as prejudice divides their island community. He must find the courage to stand up to neighborhood bully, Keet Wilson, while protecting his family’s honor and its katana, a centuries-old samurai sword. He is then forced to become the man of the family to care for his mama and sister, Kimi, after his papa is arrested and taken away to an internment camp. Based on actual events, Under the Blood-Red Sun is an unforgettable story of friendship, courage, and survival.
You can learn more about Graham Salisbury's work by clicking here.