Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
by Kristina McMorris
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.
When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.
Skillfully capturing one of the most controversial episodes in recent American history, Kristina McMorris draws readers into a novel filled with triumphs and heartbreaking loss–an authentic, moving testament to love, forgiveness, and the enduring music of the human spirit.
Maddie Kern is a budding violinist with dreams of attending Julliard. Her brother, TJ, has his own dreams of playing baseball. At the opening of the novel, they are both still reeling from the loss of their mother in a car accident and the subsequent catatonic state of their father. TJ is very angry at his father as he feels he is to blame for the accident; however, Maddie continues to visit her dad in the nursing home, playing the violin for him with little to no reaction.
When she secretly marries her brother’s best friend, Lane, the son of Japanese immigrants, life is changed forever. The morning after their wedding ceremony, Maddie and Lane wake to the news that Pearl Harbor has been bombed – and everyone of Japanese descent, including Lane and his family are now suspect. Forced to move into an internment camp, Lane, his mother, and his sister leave the American life they have grown accustomed to and begin a new life full of suspicion, fear, anger, and hate directed at them.
Maddie chooses to follow her husband, joining him and his family inside the camp. Maddie struggles to connect with her mother-in-law as Lane tries to cope with being ostracized from the country he was born into. He ends up joining the Army on the American side, willing to do anything to prove his allegiance to his country. TJ also steps up and joins the military, willing to risk his own life to serve and protect his country.
No words I can write could do adequate justice to the work of literary gold within the pages of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. This book captivated me from page one and did not let go until the final word, some 400 pages later. McMorris exquisitely captures the raw emotions – the angst, the pain, and the love – of each character in such a way that truly mesmerized me. The story is told from multiple viewpoints (Maddie, TJ, Lane), but the story never gets confusing or jumbled. The reader can feel each of the emotions that the characters are feeling, the sorrow and the joy, during their journeys. I was transported into another time and place and became so immersed with these characters that I did not want to leave them! I recommend this book without any reservation. McMorris is phenomenal – don’t miss her first book, Letters from Home!