Book 43: GARDEN OF STONES Review

Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield
ISBN: 9780778313526 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460300305 (ebook)
ASIN: B009NEISWG (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publication date: February 28, 2013

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. 

Lucy Takeda has had an unusual life (major understatement). An only child, she was adored by her father and the spitting image of her mother. Although Lucy grew up with a mother suffering with manic depression, she has led a very sheltered and privileged life. All of that changes with the death of her father, followed by the loss of her family home and relocation to an internment camp. It is here at Manzanar that Lucy witnesses great brutality and prejudice. She bears witness to the rape and continued sexual abuse of her mother, not to mention the sexual abuse of her only friend, sixteen year-old Jessie, at the hands of the men in charge at the camp. She also slowly watches her mother fall into deep depression that results in a horrible accident that will scar Lucy for life, a murder, and then her mother’s suicide. With the help of a nun, Lucy is eventually able to leave Manzanar before the war ends. She is given a job as a maid at a small hotel, where she eventually befriends the cook and her family, as well as the owner of the hotel, an injured war veteran, Garvey. 

Fast forward to 1978 and Lucy’s daughter, Patty, is preparing to get married. Days before the wedding is to occur, Lucy is being questioned and investigated as the prime suspect in a murder case. The murder victim just so happens to be one of the men that had been charged with overseeing Manzanar. Patty Takeda is already on edge about the wedding and she knows that her mother is keeping secrets. Will she be able to uncover those secrets in time to save her mother or will those secrets destroy what little peace of mind Lucy has obtained since 1944?

Ms. Littlefield has done a remarkable job in creating characters and a story that engaged me from the very beginning. Lucy’s story is told in flashback style, alternating between 1943/1944 and 1978. Lucy Takeda is a victim of circumstance, but she overcomes her adversity to make a life for herself and her child. Her physical scars seem to be a manifestation of not only an accident but also the emotional scars she has suffered during her lifetime. Patty Takeda is just as tenacious as her mother as she delves into the history of her mother and grandmother while at Manzanar. Ms. Littlefield presents an emotionally-charged drama with Garden of Stones. There are a few twists at the end that were completely unexpected and only added to my reading pleasure with this story. If you enjoy historical dramas with a bit of suspense and hint of romance, then I recommend you add Garden of Stones to your reading list.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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