Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre: Literary Fiction
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Kensington Books
A young woman secretly elopes with her Japanese American boyfriend the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed, forever changing two families torn between sides.
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.
My 10 Favorite Books and Why I Love Them
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This, to me, was poetry in the form of a novel. I've never reread so many sentences from a single book. Featuring Death as a witty narrator hooked me from the first page, and the creative use of Mein Kampf blew me away.
2. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – I often joke that if I were Oprah, this would be my Color Purple, in the sense that I rave about this novel to everyone I know, purchasing countless copies as gifts. Any book that begins with a sentence like "They took me in my nightgown" yet manages to thread hope through every page deserves the high praise this book has received. Because of the author's meticulous research, I learned a great deal about the genocide at Stalin's hands, which I couldn't believe I'd never heard about before then.
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – Before reading this novel, several friends of mine had repeatedly insisted I simply had to read it. A story about an old man in a nursing home? Reminiscing about his circus life in the '30s? Um….no thank you. Finally, one of those friends purchased a copy for me, which I didn't crack open until a winter storm trapped my family in the house for a week. I could not put the book down—and thus, I owed many friends an apology. They were so right!
4. The Taker by Alma Katsu – I think of this book as the adult version of Twilight. (Not in the Fifty Shades of Grey sense, however.) A dark, mesmerizing, haunting, page-turner of a novel. My urge to finish the book once I started quite possibly bordered on obsessive.
5. Devil at my Heels by Louis Zamperini – I bought a copy of this memoir (which since then inspired Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken) purely for research purposes while I wrote Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. They both feature WWII elements including the Army Air Corps, crashing in the Pacific, and a Japanese POW camp, so the memoir promised to be a great resource. After only a few pages, I was completely drawn into Mr. Zamperini's incredible and inspiring life. An unforgettable read.
6. The Pact by Jodi Picoult – I actually don't know if I have a particular favorite among Jodi Picoult's novels, but this was the first work of hers I ever read, and I was not only captivated by the story but also her gorgeous and insightful prose. Before then, I had no idea women's fiction could be as "unputdownable" as a thriller. Her hands-on, in-depth research, too, has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me.
7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I have to admit, as I read the first few pages, I wasn't sure I could get comfortable enough with the phonetic narration to enjoy the story. But soon, I was reading late into the night. And when the story caused me to cry toward the end—something a book has rarely done—I knew it would go onto my keeper shelf. Thankfully, I thought the film was just as wonderful.
8. The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff – During a weekend away, I started reading this novel and couldn't put it down! Many aspects reminded me of the adapted movie Shining Through, which I adored. I especially loved how the final scene of the book was an echo of the first, bringing the story full circle.
9. Down River by John Hart – This was the first literary thriller I'd ever read, and I loved the combination of elements. Beautiful prose mixed with suspenseful twists and turns. What more could a reader—or writer—ask for?
10. Night by Elie Wiesel – This was my first successful attempt at reading an Oprah Book Club selection. Somehow I'd missed this as required reading in high school, for which I'm actually grateful. Reading the book by choice, and as an adult, I think I was able to appreciate this brilliant work much more. I must have underlined at least one breathtaking excerpt on every page!
Thank you so much for joining us here today Kristina and discussing your favorite books!
About the Author:
Kristina McMorris is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the recipient of nearly twenty national literary awards. A host of weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, she penned her debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington Books, Avon/HarperCollins UK), based on inspiration from her grandparents' wartime courtship. This critically praised book was declared a must-read by Woman's Day magazine and achieved additional acclaim as a Reader's Digest Select
Editions feature, a Doubleday/Literary Guild selection, and a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction. Her second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (March 2012), has already received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among many others. Named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal, Kristina lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest, where she refuses to own an umbrella.
Connect with Kristina:
The premise of this novel began with a true account of two brothers during WWII, one who had fought for Japan and the other for America. While researching the subject, Kristina happened across a brief mention of roughly two hundred non-Japanese spouses who voluntarily lived in an internment camp. She was stunned and fascinated by the discovery, and immediately knew it was a story she needed to tell.
As the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father and Caucasian American mother, Kristina grew up living between these two cultures. Through Bridge of Scarlet Leaves she hopes to share with readers a unique perspective of an intriguing, and often tragic, portion of our country's history, while also honoring a diverse range of quiet heroes.
Watch the Behind-the-Book Video:
What critics are saying…
"[Bridge of Scarlet Leaves] gracefully blossoms through swift prose and rich characters…this gripping story about two 'brothers' in arms and a young woman caught in between them hits all the right chords."
-- Publishers Weekly
"A sweeping yet intimate novel that will please both romantics and lovers of American history."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"A wonderfully poignant tale…this WWII novel has a refreshingly different point of view."
-- RT Book Reviews
"Rich in historical detail, peopled with well-developed characters, and spiced with tension and drama, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is a novel to savor, and then to share with a friend."
-- The Historical Novels Review
Other advance praise:
"Readers of World War II fiction will devour [this] poignant, authentic story of Japanese and American lovers crossed not only by the stars but by the vagaries of war and their own country's prejudices."
-- Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
"An unputdownable love story…McMorris' attention to detail is meticulous, the East meets West clash between cultures -- revelatory."
-- Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of Good Graces
“Impeccably researched and beautifully written...I highly recommend this book!”
-- Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach Trees
"An epic romance...I followed Maddie and Lane’s fast-paced journey to unexpected places with my breath held and fingers crossed."
-- Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife
"Fascinating and moving...an absolute pleasure to read."
-- Whitney Otto, author of How to Make an American Quilt
"A beautiful, timeless love story, rich in detail and emotion, Kristina McMorris’ words reach right off the page and grab at your heart."
-- Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow