Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review : "The Color of the Sea"

"Color of the Sea" by John Hamamura. New York : Anchor Books, c2007

Hamamura has written an intensely personal - and autobiographical - exploration of the times bracketing the Second World War. In short vignettes, we see Isamu "Sam" growing from a young boy in Hawaii to a young man in Lodi, fulfilling his obligation to get a college education so as to become the "winning lottery ticket" for his family. We experience the disruption as his family is transported to camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and we share his unwavering devotion to Keiko. He is tapped by the Army to teach the Japanese language to interpreters.

The author continually explores the border between what I want and what others expect of me in themes related to immigrant labor, racial discrimination, family separation, "belonging", loyalty, personal integrity, love, and the horrors of war. It offers an insider's view of the events - a much different perspective than the one experienced by most other Americans living in California and Hawaii.

This novel is one of the 2007 winners of the Alex Awards for fiction written for adults, but with a special interest for teens.

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