Under the Silk Hibiscus / Alice Wisler
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas ISBN 9781941103302
Adult Rating: 4
Alice J. Wisler pens a historical novel about a Japanese-American family interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming during World War II.
In Under the Silk Hibiscus, fifteen-year-old Nathan and his family are sent from California to Wyoming – shortly after his father is imprisoned. His family includes his older brother Kenny, his mother, his younger brother, his grandmother, and his aunt. His mother asks Nathan to safeguard their grandfather’s watch, safely hidden in her suitcase.
Nathan likes Lucy, a Japanese-American girl, but Kenny is also interested in her. When their mother gives birth to a baby sister and dies of pneumonia, it is up to Nathan to take care of the family – Kenny is too involved elsewhere. The watch is stolen and Nathan is distraught. He attempts to recover it, and lands in camp prison. Lucy leaves without a goodbye to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. Three years later, the family returns to San Jose.
Under the Silk Hibiscus is a different flavor from Wisler’s earlier novels, contemporary romances taking place in the South. Wisler knows the Japanese culture, having grown up in Japan. She also knows how to write a romance – but the relationship between Lucy and Nathan is so understated, that one may be caught by surprise at how it turns out.
Told in the first-person, Under the Silk Hibiscus is one family’s story of faith and hope enduring in the midst of trial. The author conveys the poor treatment of the Japanese Americans, both in their internment and trying to make a life afterwards. Nathan learns about bitterness and forgiveness as the family continues to experience discrimination when rebuilding their life.
Recommended for public libraries and World War II historical fictions fans. Written for adults, young adults interested in this era will enjoy reading it too.
Carol R. Gehringer
–reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.
Recommended for school libraries and public libraries.
Carol R. Gehringer
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.