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Readers' Comments for Garden of Stones

In February, a select group of readers who participated in one of our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight contests won copies of GARDEN OF STONES by Sophie Littlefield. It’s the story of Lucy Takeda, who is just 14 years old when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are taken to the Manzanar prison camp, where they must endure its harsh living conditions. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring 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. Take a look at some of the readers' comments to give you more insight into this heartbreaking work of historical fiction --- and be sure to watch out for SPOILERS!

I just finished GARDEN OF STONES late last night after reading feverishly for two days. Typically it takes me about a week to read a book, but I could not put this one down --- I just had to see what happened next! Although I'm an avid reader, I have not read many books about the Japanese internment camps. In fact, I think the only book that I've read about this topic was HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEETby Jamie Ford. I think Littlefield did an excellent job incorporating Lucy's narrative of her experiences in the 1940s with her daughter's narrative 30 years later. Reading about Lucy's and Miyako's experiences in the camps made me think of the persecution the Jews suffered in concentration camps during the Holocaust. While the conditions weren't as extreme as many Jews faced in the camps, the Japanese were nonetheless powerless and had to submit to the wills of their captors. It is just sickening to think that something like this could have occurred in our own country in the name of nationalism. I was extremely saddened and touched by the lengths Mikayo went to protect her daughter. In terms of the writing style, I liked how Littlefield unraveled the story slowly, piece by piece, like a puzzle that takes shape before your eyes. There were a few times that I thought I had it all figured out, only to be shocked when the truth was finally revealed. 

I am the moderator for my local book club --- The Literary Ladies --- and I will definitely share this book with them.

Through flashbacks, the reader learns what happened to Japanese Americans after the bombing ofPearl Harbor. The main characters are rounded up with other innocent Japanese Americans and taken to Manzanai prison camp. This book is written in two voices --- a mother and a daughter.

In the modern day part ofthe story, the third generation granddaughter is planning her wedding. When a murder occurs, haunting memories return to the bride's mother.I enjoyed this powerful tale oftwists and turns that ended with an astonishing revelation. Historical fiction readers will be astounded to discover the corruption and abuse among the inhabitants in this camp. Book clubs will enjoy discussing the points ofview ofthe mother and daughter, their love and their resulting interactions because oflove.

Mary Lou --- This comment contains SPOILERS!
I am very interested in the subject of this book: the internment of people of Japanese heritage during World War II. I have a personal interest in this subject as my daughter-in- law is Japanese, and my three grandchildren are half Japanese. That said, I did not get really pulled into this story, and I have had a hard time figuring out why. I'm not 100% sure even now.

First of all, Ms. Littlefield writes very well. I think that my problem with the book was that I did not feel attached to these characters in any meaningful way. Because of my lack of involvement with them, I had to force myself to pick the book up and keep reading. That did change about a third of the way through because the story became more compelling when Lucy and her mother arrived at the camp and Lucy met Jesse. So that helped. But later, the whole Lucy/Garvey relationship was strange, too.

I did not understand Miyako on any level, even though we are told she suffered from mood disorders. Also, Patty's character was hard to understand. In fact, she came across as so ordinary that it was difficult to see why her fiancé, who was apparently very successful and smart, was even interested in her at all. I am wondering if the book should have been longer in order to develop these characters more, to make it easier for the reader to connect. Also, we are given only Lucy's point of view as to Miyako, and she didn't understand her mother very well, so neither did the reader.

I will say that I liked the mystery aspect of it: Who was Patty really? Who killed the bad guy? How was Lucy's face disfigured? And on the subject of the disfigurement, how grotesque was that whole part of the plot development! Hard to bear and hard to endure the suspense leading up to that awful event.

I will say that if I had not expressed an interest in reading and commenting on this book for, I would probably not have been terribly motivated to finish it. 

I found the first part of the story quite compelling. As a female reader, I was caught up in the vulnerability of Miyako, Lucy and Jessie, and the trauma of their life at Manzanar, and, of course, the disgust I felt for the way our country treated its Japanese citizens. The part of the book where Lucy goes to work for the Sloat family was rather contrived, and not really plausible. I realize a transition was needed to get Lucy from one part of her life to another, but I felt this part was very weak. The revelations at the end of the book were quite a surprise (as they were meant to be), but wading through the middle part still needed to be endured before getting to that startling ending. And yet, I am glad I read the book for the insight it gave me into a sad time in our country’s history. 

I enjoyed the book. It reminded me of SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS. It flips back and forth between the time in the internment camp during the war and a murder in the 1970s, with many unexpected twists and turns. The characters were very well developed, and I could tell there was a lot of research that went into the book. However, I found that I had difficulty with Lucy feeling Garvey was one of two loves of her life. There really wasn't much in the way of how that relationship developed to that degree.  

I was fortunate to have my name drawn to receive the book GARDEN OF STONES by Sophie Littlefield and want to report that it was one of the best books I have read recently. It is very well written, and it makes you feel as if you were right there in the Japanese internment camp with the mother and daughter. It has a definite twist at the end, which I really liked. I would definitely give this book a five star rating and have suggested it to a couple of book clubs as a must-read.

This book amazed me. It’s a tale of a dark stain on American history and those that survived. The story flashes back and forth from 1978 to 1941 and beyond. As Patty prepares for her wedding police come to the door to ask her mother, Lucy, about Reginald Forrest. A name from the past, one of many names from a dark time, a time she never talked about. Lucy Takeda spent her early years in L.A. upper middle class, having nice things and a good life. Her father owned a plant; her mother, Miyako, suffered from manic depression. When Lucy's father dies, her mother, an "Auntie" (neighbor), and her are rounded up by the War Replacement Authority and placed into Manazar refugee camp. A story of mother and daughters, of the evils of the world, of what you would do to protect the ones you love --- this book is filled with an amazing depth of story and character. Filled with details that embrace the reader and touch the senses and heart. Twists and turns as secrets are unraveled and revealed only to the reader making us realize the depth of love and secrets made for protection.

I enjoyed the setting and subject matter of the book. I have never read anything about the Japanese camps during the war and I found that part very interesting. I read a lot of historical fiction, but most of what I read tends to be heavier and have more complex storylines. The writing style of GARDEN OF STONE was much lighter in style. I personally found it lacking in depth but that does not mean I disliked the book, only that it was a different style than I would usually choose. I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys historical fiction, but does not want a complex storyline with a heavy character roster. In other words, someone who wants a light, quick, interesting read. I have already recommended this book to two people who I thought would enjoy it and they both really liked it.

This book kept me waiting as it found its way to the west coast all the way from Germany. This is fitting to the novel, spanning three generations of Japanese-American woman. This family of wealthy, beautiful females turns a corner to find themselves defenseless when relocated to a camp during World War II. Suffering under men taking advantage of their power and position, someone had to die to make it stop.

The war, now just pictures hidden away and secrets kept, returns to the surface when one of the women is spotted near the scene of a mysterious death. Through this crime of today, answers to the past are discovered.

Littlefield wove this story brilliantly and just when you thought you knew all the answers, she turns one last corner. Intriguing to the last page, I created my Top Picks of 2013 shelf upon completion of GARDEN OF STONES.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy historical dramas as well as those who reach for mystery novels. So expertly written, this title appeals to a wide audience. I've been talking about it to friends who don't even read! If you pick up any book this year, it should be GARDEN OF STONES.