Saturday Book Review: “Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

yasu's quest diane dettmann

Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph

by Diane Dettmann

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478755791


In this skillfully woven coming-of-age story, Yasu Sakamoto continues her journey that began in Dettmann’s award-winning book, Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. Yasu’s Quest: A Tale of Triumph carries readers into the next phase of Yasu Sakamoto’s life so smoothly that the book can be read independently or as a sequel.

With a keen sense for detail, author Diane Dettmann skillfully draws readers into an engaging story about an unexpected friendship that develops between Yasu Sakamoto and Martha Annala, a university professor. When they first meet on a train headed to Minneapolis, Yasu is afraid to trust Martha with any information about her past and lies about her identity to protect herself and her family. Alone and with no place to go, Yasu eventually tells Martha about leaving her home in Glenville and the three years she spent imprisoned in the internment camp. Martha feels Yasu’s pain and opens her heart and home to her.
As the war intensifies anti-Japanese attitudes escalate in America and the hostility runs rampant. Martha’s decision to befriend Yasu ultimately creates hardships and challenges in her own life. Relationships with university colleagues become strained, but Martha remains committed to her friendship with Yasu. Negative looks and anti-Japanese comments surround Yasu everywhere she goes. She deeply misses her parents, her brother, Haro, and Kenta, her loving German shepherd, but knows she must push forward.


How can an eighteen-year-old girl escape from a U.S. internment camp for the Japanese that has been heavily and successfully guarded for three years? The opening of Yasu’s Quest, continues the saga begun in Courageous Footsteps, which observed the pre-camp life and early internment of the Sakamoto family. Familiarity with this prior novel will lend a special appreciation for this powerful sequel, which goes in a different direction as it outlines Yasu’s choices.

The Sakamotos have been devastated by the war as much or more so than any other American family (“How can this be happening? First my son dies in combat, then my daughter disappears and now my husband’s in jail.”). Yasu’s escape is just one more trial they have to bear in an impossibly changed world; and as for Yasu herself – how can she hide when her Japanese heritage gives her away?

Her journey to Minneapolis results in a chance encounter and an unexpectedly friendly face, and her life changes. Yasu and Martha each confront their changing world with innovative survival techniques that provide insights into both the larger issues of domestic World War II and its daily challenges (“With sugar rationing still on, women often use beer for setting their hair. So I gave it a try. Seems to work and I just put it in the refrigerator and use it over and over until it’s gone. Sometimes even spit works.”).

Diane Dettmann’s careful attention to focusing on both aspects of this world and both bigger and smaller pictures of changed lives makes for a far more thoughtful, detailed inspection than most World War II accounts provide, creating a series of insights based on Yasu’s evolving experiences in college and the family’s life as the war draws to a close.

The contrast between a young woman making her way in this changed world and a family on the edge of return to a world both familiar and alien makes for a riveting story line that clearly reveals the difficulties of the times: “Even the letters to the editor were filled with vicious comments about preventing the Japanese Americans from returning to their homes. Mr. Sakamoto folded up the paper and tucked it in his suitcase. His joyful thoughts of returning home were replaced with fear and anxiety.”

Will the family reunite, and how will they pick up the pieces of shattered lives and rebuild, along with the rest of America? One woman’s act of kindness could change all their lives. Yasu’s Quest neatly covers issues of loss, grief, recovery, and acts of kindness as it presents a journey that ultimately transcends the forces of division and injustice pummeling the Japanese family.

While teens will be the likely readers of this novel, many an adult will find that Yasu’s Quest holds perspectives and details that are as enlightening as they are involving. It, along with its companion, are thus highly recommended picks for any reader interested in a powerful, ultimately hopeful, view of World War II’s lasting effects on the Japanese in America.


reviewed by Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

I have been waiting for the sequel to Courageous Footsteps – which I couldn’t put down! What a great novel with important historical references, but also developed characters that I could relate to. Thank you Diane! A must read!

– Amazon Reviewer Kelly McNelis

Love this book…fast read…held your interest…hard to put it down!

– Amazon Reviewer Karen Grossaint

saturday self-published book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!

Self Publishing Advisor


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