Saturday Book Review: “Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel”

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:

Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel diane dettmann

Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel

by Diane Dettmann

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478755586

Synopsis:

PACIFIC RIM BOOK FESTIVAL WINNER!

Courageous Footsteps is a historical novel about two teenagers, Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, who, along with their family, are imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp in eastern California during WWII. Surrounded by barbwire fences, Yasu and her brother struggle to make sense out of their young lives. They long to return to the life they enjoyed in Glenville, California, but instead are forced to endure hardships and make choices that will change their lives forever. Awarded runner-up in the Great Midwest Book Festival in the young adult category, this piece of America’s history is an informative, eye-opening read for adults too.

Critique:

The majority of novels about World War II are directed to adult audiences, but Courageous Footsteps is a story for teens and presents the experiences of Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, who are removed (along with their family) from their Glenville, California home and interred in a concentration camp.

All ages will find Courageous Footsteps a gripping, eye-opening approach, for several reasons. One is its ability to provide a stark contrast between the comfortable, middle-class American lifestyle experienced by the family at the novel’s opening with life behind barbed wire fences after they are removed from their home.

Few other novels, adult or teen, so adequately portray the emotions, daily experiences, and struggles of the Japanese during this period of time. From the moment Pearl Harbor is bombed and war is declared with the Japanese to the President’s orders to take away their lives, Courageous Footsteps progresses swiftly and documents the quick rise of fear and its accompanying prejudice, which place the family in constant danger and flux.

Nearly overnight, the Sakamotos become enemies of the people and are attacked, beaten, and maligned by strangers who only see their Japanese faces and not their American identities. Their personal possessions (radios, guns, cameras, binoculars) are confiscated by the Army in the name of national security, the family is forced to do the best it can under prison conditions, and camp regulations take over their formerly-free lives.

How does a family stay together and preserve their shattered dreams under such conditions? Courageous Footsteps is as much a story of this survival process as it is a documentation of one girl’s evolving determination to escape this impossible life and resume her dreams.

Teens and new adult audiences alike will find Courageous Footsteps evocative, compelling, and hard to put down.

reviewed on Donovan’s Bookshelf of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

Book really made me think about what these American born Japanese American citizens went thru at the hands of our government. How sad the way they were treated. This book evolves the characters so well with just enough info about them and not so much that you get bogged down with their personalities. Just a marvelous book that gives so much insight into what the Nisei’s went thru. How they worked so hard to build their lives and then to have it taken away and have them herded into these camps, how badly they were treated and how awful the conditions. OMG I admire and respect them for their perseverance and how they all worked together and were so respectful of their parents. Haro worked hard and applied himself and fought hard for this country after how badly he was treated. It was a different time…you won’t find many kids today with this kind of respect for their parents nor their work ethic. Just an amazing and enlightening book! Can’t wait for the sequel!

– Amazon Reviewer Karen Grossaint

The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII is a period of history which I was not familiar with. I had read magazine articles but they only touched the surface. Ms. Dettmann’s book is a real eye opener! I had no clue what my fellow Japanese Americans faced and the atrocities they lived through! While this book is a historical fiction novel, I had to continually remind myself of just that. The author’s extraordinary writing skills made it read like a true story. The characters and their experiences seemed so real.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were rounded up and arrested like common criminals. They were forced in to camps against their will and remained there until the end of the war. The reader follows the painful journey the Sakomoto family through the eyes of their teenage daughter Yasu. They were law-abiding American citizens in 1941. They owned a small business in Glenville, California. Being a close knit family, they had a deep love for one another and their country. The quiet, peaceful life they had known changed quickly after the bombing. Persecution from fellow townspeople and even friends was immediate and harsh. Their lives became endangered in the very area and by the people that had been a part of their happiness.

My heart broke for young Yasu. Being a teenager is hard enough, but to face adolescence with such rejection and hostility was excruciating. Her sweet family continued to trust their country and government right up to their arrests. The gentle humble spirits of the Japanese were a great contrast as to how most Americans would have responded to this extreme discrimination.

I had no clue the camp conditions were so degrading and horrific. My first thought was about the concentration camps of the Jews. These camps were not as severe as Hitler’s, but they were shocking. There was filth, crowding, squalid living conditions, poor food, such as I would never have dreamed could take place in America. The author took me into the camp, to walk daily with the Sakamotos, living their experiences and allowing my heart of feel their emotions.

Though each era had different details, I saw a common thread running through history in the injustice toward other groups: the slavery of African Americans, the Chinese in the early 1900’s, the Jews, and the Japanese. People that had done no wrong but were victims of fear and misunderstanding.

I do disagree with this being labeled as a “young adult fiction”. This book is for teens and adults too! A must read for all! Watch for a sequel!

– Amazon Reviewer Moonpie

 AUTHOR INTERVIEW


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