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  • Writer's picturemeredithjohnson

Book Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves By Kristina McMorris

It's 1941 and Maddie Kern is an up and coming violinist with her sights set on Julliard. She and her brother TJ are navigating their newfound way of life after a tragic accident involving both their parents. The siblings are close with TJ becoming more protective of his sister since the accident. This is why Maddie can't bring herself to tell TJ she is secretly seeing Lane, the son of Japanese immigrants, and TJ's best friend. She is afraid their relationship will not be approved of by their families. Despite this, she and Lane elope.

Soon after the honeymoon, Pearl Harbor is bombed and suddenly Lane is seen as the enemy in the eyes of their community and friends. The weight of their decision to marry is heavy on both as Lane and his family are moved to a war relocation camp. Maddie follows, giving up her Julliard dreams. Behind tall fences and barbed wire, she tries to find acceptance with her new family and culture, while Lane tires to do all he can to prove he's on America's side, even if it means a tragic outcome.

In the Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, the events of WWII play out through the eyes of Maddie, Lane, & TJ who despite the odds and events that take place, try to do the best they can to navigate a new world of uncertainty, fear, and suspicion. I am so glad this book was handed to me because it's not something I would normally read. I was hooked from the moment I read the first chapter. I had to see what would happen to Lane and Maddie. I became completely invested in their love story of two cultures and races finding love and trying to beat the odds. And there was so much against them, even immediately after they were married. My heart broke for them as they made the decision after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to go their separate ways, both trying to do so for the other ones sake.

I rejoiced to see them come together again at the war relocation camp. It was eye opening to me what the characters went through just so they could love each other. It wasn't lost on me either how much their personal story could easily fit into our current world which made it even more poignant. It was nice to follow Maddie specifically because she grows from an uncertain girl of 18 at the beginning of the book to a woman sure of herself and her path by age 22 at the end of the book. She knows heartache from her parent's tragedy, she finds happiness with Lane, but suffers tragedy again because of WWII.

Kristina McMorris' portrayal of love, loss, and finding yourself during one of our nations most controversial times is beautifully written and inspiring.

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