by Mary Allen
After the death of the father, an Japanese American family is forced to separate for financial reasons. Two sons are sent to live with an uncle in Japan while the youngest remains in America with their mother. By the time Pearl Harbor is bombed the oldest son has yet to return. The family finds their loyalty and patriotism questioned on both sides of the ocean and their faith is tested.
Akira, the son in Japan, is in love with a beautiful young woman whom he may lose when her father arranges a marriage for her. Meanwhile, their attendance at forbidden Bible meetings puts them both in danger. As the war heats up and personal rivalries break out, his American citizenship makes him a target. Conscripted into the army will he survive? Will their love?
The second son and his wife consider themselves fully American despite being rounded up at gunpoint and treated as enemies. They are moved into an overcrowded internment camp where their family of five lives in a single horse stall with others. They seek peaceful, godly ways to change the terrible conditions in the internment and prove their loyalty to the country they love. Will his efforts cause his death?
The youngest rails against being imprisoned unjustly. He chooses a more volatile path to draw attention their desperate situation. After the heavy price he pays, will he ever throw off hatred and submit his life to Christ?
The story pulled me along. I wanted to know what happened to each of these characters. I was concerned whether the family would be reunited. Would healing and forgiveness?
The experiences at Japanese internment camps in WWII was an eye-opener, even though I was aware of this piece of American history. "Cherry Blossoms in the Storm" is a historical romance that will interest anyone who enjoys reading about that time period. However, I think the telling of a Japanese story puts a different twist on this era. I also believe that it would make great supplemental reading for history students as it displays a little known event of WWII in an understandable and interesting way.
Alternating chapters deal with the simultaneous stories. The Japanese culture, formal and polite, is felt in the cadence of the writing. The familiar American culture is also expressed. In fact, the dialogue of the youngest son held a relaxed, even cocky tone that is common to American teens.
Authors Robert and Gail Kaku are third generation Japanese. The story is not based on family experience, because the family chose not to reveal this painful part of their history. However, it is close to their hearts. While the story is one of hope despite tragedy during WWII, the message of hope of Christ in any circumstance is universal and true. May that message touch every reader.