Book Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

Title: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: At the sound of her brother’s voice, flutters of joy turned to panic in Maddie Kern.

Goodreads blurb: Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

Shortly after seeing a couple of rave reviews about Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, I was offered a review copy. Most of you know that, at the beginning of the year, I made a goal to not accept very many review copies this year. I did really well during the TBR Double Dare, but my resolve wavered after it was over – and after I kept getting offered books like this one, books that tempt me right where my love of historical fiction (especially World War II fiction) lives. And while not ever review copy I have accepted has been a winner, I am so very glad I didn’t turn this one down.

Can you imagine the situation in which Maddie and Lane find themselves? They are deeply in love, but know that they will face opposition from both of their families because Maddie is white and Lane is Japanese. So they decide to elope, figuring that everyone else will just have to accept their decision. But the morning after their wedding, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, and they are now faced with prejudice and hatred they could never have imagined.

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves follows Lane and Maddie and Maddie’s brother TJ through the years of the war. Kristina McMorris paints a vivid picture of what life was like for an American woman married to a Japanese-American man – and that picture made me so ashamed of this period in our history. I loved the fact that Maddie didn’t let the racism and prejudice she faced keep her from being true to her love for her husband. She is a terrific character, one whose fight and loyalty won me over.

McMorris takes her readers from the internment camps to the bloody island battlefields of the Pacific Theater, and every word was perfectly placed to completely immerse the reader in the experience. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and lovely book, and one that reminds me why I love historical fiction so much.

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16 Responses to Book Review: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

  1. AnnieB says:

    Bridge of Scarlet Letters sounds very good. I, too, love WWII fiction. Not so much about the fighting, but the loved ones left behind. One of my personal favorites is The Cazelet Family Series of four books about a very large family in Britain before, during, and after the war. They are The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and Casting Off. Written by Elizabeth Jane Howard in the 1980s. All four books contain incredible detail and you feel you are one of the family by the time you have finished. I am also a big fan of Burn Notice. Good review yesterday.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      AnnieB – thanks for the recommendation on the Cazelet series – I’ll have to see if I can find them!

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I really love to read about that time period too. I’m glad to see this one was a winner for you.

  3. irene says:

    One of my favourite historical fiction times as well. I enjoyed this author’s previous book as well. Letters from Home. Glad you enjoyed this. I did really well with the TBR double dare, but now I’m back to my evil ways. Books Books everywhere… What can we say? It’s going to be 100 degrees today a good day to sit and read. (in an air controlled environment).

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Irene – nothing you can do in that kind of weather but read in the AC, I agree!

  4. Kailana says:

    I have heard lots of good things about this book. I really want to read it at some point.

  5. So glad to see you loved this one. I’ll be reading it soon, and I can’t wait!!

  6. Anything WWII related catches my interest, but I admit to being especially interested in the internment camps in the U.S. during that time. One of the former camps was within a 100 miles of where I lived during a good part of my schooling and so that sore spot in our history was a big part of my education. I hadn’t heard of this book before, but now that you’ve brought it to my attention, I will definitely be adding it to my wish list. Especially since it’s a five star book! Thanks for your great review, Carrie.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy – I’m always interested in hearing the stories surrounding the internment camps. Another great book about that period in our history is Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

  7. Heather @ Book Addiction
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath

    This sounds excellent! I hadn’t heard of this book before but your review gave me no choice but to add it to my list! 🙂

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