After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor Tetsu’s father is taken away by the FBI. Not long after that he, his mother, and his sister, Kimi, are taken to an internment camp. They have to leave their home and dog in California, taking only a few belongings with them to the barracks in Arizona. The hot desert climate is only one of the many difficult things to adjust to about their new life. Tetsu worries about his father and is concerned that there isn’t a way to get in touch with him because his father cannot read or write English. Their living conditions involve a lot of sweeping, bad bathroom conditions, and lots of new people. School couldn't be more different from the way it was before coming to the camp, but luckily there's a volunteer who helps to teach the children. Tetsu misses baseball and wants to play again. When the opportunity arises to help build and create a baseball field on the land outside the barracks, Tetsu jumps at the chance. He can't wait for everything to be cleared out and ready so he can play, but when that day comes his sister needs him, and he becomes frustrated. He leaves her and goes to play some baseball for the first time in ages. What should have been a great day, changes when he learns that his sister is missing. When she can't be found anywhere later that day or night, Tetsu becomes frantic. Will they be able to find Kimi? Will Tetsu and his father ever be reunited? How long will they have to stay at the internment camp? Take this trip through history to find out what life was like for some of the Japanese who were relocated to internment camps.
A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice appealed to me because I enjoy historical fiction. It's one of my favorite ways to learn more about what's happened in the past; the characters help the setting and situation come alive for me. Each chapter was very short, which made this a fast read. I could relate to Tetsu and felt so sorry for him and all the other people who were at the camp. It makes the reader realize that it's not fair to treat people badly simply because other people who look like them or come from the same place they came from are bad. I especially enjoyed reading the author’s note at the end and finding out about the research she did to write this book. It was interesting to know that she interviewed people who really were at the camp and who played baseball there. I had no idea baseball was such a big part of the camps, but I can see how it gave people hope and something else to think about. I recommend this book to kids in third grade and up. Adults will also enjoy learning more about this time in history. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Has anyone else read A Diamond in the Desert? Or have you read another book by Kathryn Fitzmaurice? We’d love to hear your thoughts!