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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

"We lived under a sky so blue in Idaho right near the towns of Hunt and Eden but we were not welcomed there." In early 1942, thirteen-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? This memorable and powerful novel in verse, written by award-winning author Mariko Nagai, explores the nature of fear, the value of acceptance, and the beauty of life. As thought-provoking as it is uplifting, Dust of Eden is told with an honesty that is both heart-wrenching and inspirational.…

Dust of Eden

by Mariko Nagai

Overall Book Review:

Told from the prespective of 13 year old Mina and written in verse, Dust of Eden gives a mesmorizing voice to the great injustice that took place during World War II when Americans with Japanese ancestry were forced to relocate to internment camps.

Author Mariko Nagai appraoches a disturbing subject in such a way that it becomes tangible, and real. Gone are the abstract ideas, as the proceedings take shape they gain authority and suddenly it’s no longer just a subject, but a family with names, thoughts, and feelings. It becomes a reality previously a lesson to be learned in a history class with inhuman facts and figures, but now a concrete truth told with a poignent sensitivity and genuine feeling.

The component of writing the book in verse adds an insightful element to the book. For those readers who realize that poetry does not need to rhyme for it to be engaging, then you will appreciate Nagai’s writing style which flows elegantly while still keeping structure to the novel. Young readers, or those who are unfamiliar with creative styles of writing, may find the novel to be choppy, but as you become better acquainted with the approach of free verse, the strong imagery and metaphors used are sure to leave you captivated.

Though it’s told from the point of view of a young girl decades ago, this book still feels relevant for not only today’s youth, but society at large, as it asks some very significant questions such as:  What does it mean to be an American? What makes you an American? How far are you willing to go to show your loyalty?

I honestly cannot categorize this book into a certain age group as I feel it deserves exposure to all walks of life–not only for it’s creative quality, but because it gives life to a grave governmental injustice in America’s history. Dust of Eden- a sincerely artistic and intelligent feat.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Albert Whitman & Co.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 8 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 1 anatomical term.

Violence/Gore:  Brief general report of a bombing; brief general report of soldiers dying at Pearl Harbor; character gives brief report of a family member hitting her sibling with an object; character mentions her sibling having injuries because of physical fighting with peers; brief report of violent death, blood mentioned; brief scene of family members physically fighting with one another; character reports a soldier’s death; brief scene of character reading a newspaper reporting of soldier’s death; extended scene (about 2 pages) character recalls being in a battle, blood and death mentioned; extended scene (about 1 page) character reports seeing the effects a concentration camp has on people, death mentioned; non-descriptive brief scene character reports a mother killing her child: character reports seeing the aftermath of the atomic bomb had on the people of Hiroshima Japan, death mentioned.

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:

Racial inequality/prejudice, war, family conflict, governmental injustice, civil rights, death.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Few (about 3) brief mentions of adults drinking alcohol and smoking.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.