Title: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre/Audience: Historical fiction, romance, adult
Publication: Kensington, 2012
Source: For review
It is 1941, and violinist, Maddie Kern, is deeply in love with her boyfriend Lane. Lane, the son of Japanese immigrants, and the best friend of Maddie’s older brother, feels the same, and the two secretly elope. They know their love will be disapproved of, especially by Maddie’s protective older brother, and Lane’s strict, traditional Japanese parents who intended for an arranged marriage, but neither can predict what is about to happen: the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now, Lane, his family, and all the other Japanese immigrants are viewed as the enemy, and sent to live in camps around the country, torn from their homes. Maddie makes the ultimate sacrifice, moving to the camps with Lane and his family, and desperately tries to fit in and find acceptance with his family. Lane also makes the ultimate sacrifice, by enlisting, to prove his allegiance to America. The cost of these sacrifices may prove to be more than either ever anticipated.
Do y’all remember how much I looooved Kristina’s first novel, Letters From Home? Oh my goodness, so freaking much! It was a favorite of 2011, and Bridge of Scarlet Leaves did not disappoint. The strange thing is, I have never been a fan of historical fiction, but I have always been fascinated by the WWII era, AND Kristina’s stories are just so relevant and lovely that I don’t even necessarily feel like I’m reading historical fiction.
The characters in this novel are strong and that’s what I think makes Kristina stand out as a writer. I feel like I am literally inside of each of their heads, going through their problems, feeling their feelings, living and breathing their lives right alongside them. You are never left wondering more about them because you are them, for a brief moment in time.
The novel shifts from three points of view in alternating chapters: Maddie, Lane, and T.J., who is also serving on the front lines. Through these points of view, we learn each of their stories in depth. We learn that Maddie and T.J. come from a broken home, with a dead mother and a (nearly) brain dead father. We learn that Lane is ambitious and kind, and that his parents are stern, traditional Japanese immigrants, but that Lane wants to break the mold. We learn Maddie’s hopes, ambitions, heartaches… We learn everything, and become incredibly invested in their stories.
As always, I enjoyed reading more about WWII. It was interesting for me to see it from a Japanese perspective, as I’ve never seen it from that perspective before. Most of all, though, I enjoyed the love stories – the unyielding love between Maddie and Lane, of course, but also the love of family, and the devotion everyone had to each other. I will say that I didn’t enjoy this novel QUITE as much as I enjoyed Letters From Home, but I still really liked it. I think the reason I liked Letters a bit better was because it was from the points of view of three females, and I typically enjoy that P.O.V. better in my reading.
My Rating: 4/5