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The Red Kimono

A Novel

Jan Morrill

Publication Year: 2013

In 1941, racial tensions are rising in the California community where nine-year-old Sachiko Kimura and her seventeen-year-old brother, Nobu, live. Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor, people are angry, and one night, Sachiko and Nobu witness three teenage boys taunting and beating their father in the park. Sachiko especially remembers Terrence Harris, the boy with dark skin and hazel eyes, and Nobu cannot believe the boys capable of such violence toward his father are actually his friends. What Sachiko and Nobu do not know is that Terrence’s family had received a telegram that morning with news that Terrence’s father was killed at Pearl Harbor. Desperate to escape his pain, Terrence rushes from his home and runs into two high-school friends who convince him to find a Japanese man and get revenge. They do not know the man they attacked is Sachiko and Nobu’s father. In the months that follow, Terrence is convicted of his crime and Sachiko and Nobu are sent to an internment camp in Arkansas, a fictionalized version of the two camps that actually existed in Arkansas during the war. While behind bars and barbed wire, each of the three young people will go through dramatic changes. One will learn acceptance. One will remain imprisoned by resentment, and one will seek a path to forgiveness.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments

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pp. 2-11

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1. Sachi

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pp. 3-7

Like a broken record, Papa’s words played over and over in Sachi’s mind.
Remember gaman, Sachi-chan. You must learn to be patient.
But Christmas was still eighteen days away. Be patient? It was like asking a bird not to fly.
She tiptoed into her parents’ room and opened the closet door, hoping the squeaking hinges wouldn’t tattle on her. Pushing her mother’s...

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2. Sachi

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pp. 8-13

Sachi stood in front of the mirror and watched her reflection as she slowly buttoned her sweater. Moving close, she opened her eyes wide. What would they look like if they weren’t slanted? Would the world look different through big, round eyes? And what if they were blue? Would she see colors differently? ...

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3. Nobu

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pp. 14-19

The clang of the school bell echoed in the emptying halls of Berkeley High School. Nobu couldn’t put off going to class any longer. Hissing whispers hushed when he entered homeroom, but his classmates’ stares followed him to his seat...

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4. Sachi

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pp. 20-23

Sachi sat in front of the Christmas tree and studied the package wrapped in silver paper, mesmerized by the lights of the tree reflecting off of it.If Mama thought she had hidden it, she was wrong. Sachi had found it covered up by other colorful packages the very day her mother placed it there. And she knew by the shape of the box, it was a doll like her...

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5. Terrence

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pp. 23-45

Early that day, signs of morning stirred Terrence from sleep. Sunlight through the blinds. The smell of bacon. Coffee. Momma humming in the kitchen. He yawned and stretched his arms over his head, feeling his body wake. He smiled, remembering the dream he’d had about that cute girl in biology...

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6. Sachi

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pp. 34-38

The sounds in the emergency waiting room were the worst. Sachi could close her eyes to escape the sights, but she couldn’t block out the whimpers of the little boy who sat across from her, holding his bloodied arm. Or the baby wrapped in the blue blanket who cried as the nervous mother bounced him in her arms, whispering, “Shh, shh, shh.” Gurneys...

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7. Terrence

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pp. 39-41

The doorbell rang. Terrence’s heart stopped. He turned on his lamp and checked the clock on the nightstand. Ten thirty-five.
Momma called from the front door.
He knew who it was. He’d felt hunted all day. Even if he didn’t see the hunters chasing him, he knew they’d find him. No place to hide...

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8. Sachi

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pp. 41-45

Sachi sat at the kitchen table, looking out the window at fog that blanketed the neighborhood. Blurry dots of Christmas lights on the house across the street blinked through the grayness. It was not merry like Christmas Eve should be...

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9. Sachi

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pp. 46-49

Christmas morning. Quiet. Was she the first to wake?
What did Santa bring? Did I get my doll?
Then she remembered Papa.
She shut her eyes again, so tight, as though that might make it all a bad dream. But when she opened them, it all became real again...

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10. Sachi

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pp. 49-52

Sachi scooted her peas around her plate and watched them roll into each other like marbles. Nothing tasted good. Not the pork, not the peas. Not even the rice. Even worse, Papa’s chair was empty.
Mama hadn’t eaten much off her plate either, and even Nobu, who usually asked for seconds and thirds, played with his food—stacking peas...

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11. Sachi

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pp. 53-54

Everything at the hospital looked gray and moved in a strange, slow motion: nurses walking in and out of patients’ rooms, the second hand on the clock in the hall.
Sachi held her mother’s hand tighter as they approached the waiting area...

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12. Nobu

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pp. 54-55

They’ve taken Papa away.
How is it that the government can come without warning to take an injured man, a man who has committed no crime, to a “Justice Department” camp? Where is the justice in that?...

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13. Nobu

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pp. 55-58

Nobu picked up a towel and folded it. “I’m sure we’ll find him, Mama. Maybe now that the holidays are over we can talk to someone who can actually give us some information.”
Mama didn’t look up, but kept folding laundry, as if the repetitive movement of picking up and folding, picking up and folding, was a...

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14. Nobu

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pp. 59-60

Today we returned to school after Christmas holiday. I have to admit, it was a welcome break from the sadness that has filled our home since we found out that Papa died. Everything there reminds me of him, and though I know Mama tries to be strong, she can’t hide the faraway look in her eyes...

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15. Terrence

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pp. 60-63

Jailhouse sounds jerked Terrence out of a deep sleep. Keys clanked. The cell door squealed as it opened.
A gravelly voice followed. “You got visitors, kid. Get up and get dressed.”
Terrence pulled himself up and sat on the edge of the cot, rubbing his eyes...

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16. Sachi

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pp. 63-67

Sachi held her doll close and rang the doorbell. She heard shoes tapping on hardwood floors on the other side of the door. While she waited, she admired purple and yellow pansies that bloomed and overflowed from garden boxes lining the porch rails. Maybe Mama would plant some flowers with her now that spring was here. Like Papa used to do...

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17. Nobu

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pp. 67-68

When Mama came home this afternoon, I knew something was wrong. She looked frightened, and I could tell Sachi had been crying.
She told me about the notices that were posted everywhere. Notices that we are to be evacuated by April 7. Evacuated from our own homes? How can they do this? They say it’s for our own protection. Bullshit! It’s because they are afraid...

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18. Sachi

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pp. 68-72

The large suitcase lay open in the middle of her bedroom floor, and Sachi watched Mama neatly arrange sweaters, pajamas, socks, and underwear.
But Mama wouldn’t know which books to pack, so Sachi ran to her bookshelf and skimmed her finger over the titles, choosing her favorites. It was not an easy choice. Each of them had taken her to imaginary places she had grown to love...

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19. Nobu

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pp. 73-75

Nobu needed a place to hide. He walked into his bedroom, slammed the door, and stood in the middle of the darkness, holding his breath as he tried to cast away the anger he felt. Nothing took away his rage. It danced around him, hot and wild as the flames he’d just watched in his backyard...

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20. Terrence

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pp. 75-78

The courtroom hummed with whispers about the three boys sitting at the front of the room. Every once in a while, bits of conversation jumped out and bit Terrence...

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21. Sachi

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pp. 79-84

It was almost time to go. Sachi listened to Mama’s heels tapping on the floor as she rushed around the house for a final check before they’d leave for good.
Tap, tap, tap, tap. Silence.
What did Mama think about as she walked into the kitchen? The living room? The bedrooms?...

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22. Nobu

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pp. 84-86

Nobu exhaled, his heart still beating hard after seating Mama and Sachi and getting their bags loaded. He had been afraid he wouldn’t find room for everything. Shoving and pushing at one point, he’d even elbowed a man to get him to move his suitcase so he could squeeze the last one onto the shelf above them...

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23. Sachi

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pp. 86-89

Murmuring. It soothed her like a lullaby. The scent of cedar beside her. But why did her arms hurt? A loud hiss. Where was she? Her body jerked forward and she opened her eyes. The light—too bright.
An unfamiliar voice: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tanforan.”...

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24. Nobu

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pp. 89-90

Nobu ran out—past Mama and Sachi, down the row of horse-stall barracks.
Mama called after him. “Nobu! Where are you going?”
He didn’t stop, but yelled back to his mother and sister. “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I’ll be back later.”...

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25. Terrence

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pp. 90-94

Sunday. Pot roast for supper. About this time, Missy and Patty would be jabbering at each other across the table like nobody else in the world existed. And afterwards, Terrence would wish he’d done his homework on Saturday, ’cause he sure wasn’t gonna feel like doing it after pot roast...

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26. Sachi

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pp. 94-97

Sachi was the first to wake. Mama slept next to her, breathing in, then out, in a slow rhythm. There were times she wished she had her own bed again. Like when Mama whispered to Papa and Taro in the middle of the night...

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27. Terrence

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pp. 98-104

Terrence looked up at the blue light coming through the cell window. Long night. Too many goddamn thoughts kept him tossing and turning.
He was supposed to appear in front of Judge Anderson at nine o’clock. Edward Blake said he’d come by around seven thirty to brief...

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28. Sachi

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pp. 104-112

Sachi sat at the edge of the bed and pretended to read a book. But it was only a place to hide while she watched her mother get dressed for breakfast.
Finally, Mama had agreed to go out. Since arriving at Santa Anita, she had refused to leave the stall they lived in, and Sachi couldn’t understand...

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29. Nobu

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pp. 112-115

Nobu sat in the shade of the administration building, trying to escape the sun, trying to hide from too many people. He tossed pebbles at a fence post, unable to quit thinking about the graduation ceremony he’d missed at Berkeley High School...

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30. Terrence

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pp. 115-120

Terrence traced the line he’d marked on the wall that morning. One line. One day. He knew without counting how many had passed so far; thought about it every hour of every day. Ninety-two since the judge sentenced him, drawn on the dingy wall next to his cot. How the hell was he going to make it another 638 days?...

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31. Nobu

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pp. 121-124

Nobu gripped the bat and studied Kazu’s face as he wound up for the pitch. His eyes always gave away how the ball would leave his hands. A twitch of his right eye, he’d throw a curve ball. Left eye, you could expect a fastball. Nobu had learned to interpret his friend’s facial expressions...

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32. Sachi

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pp. 125-128

Sachi knew Sam had to be around somewhere. But where? There were only so many places to hide, but she’d already searched most of those. Behind the shower house? Under the school room stoop? Where was he?...

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33. Terrence

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pp. 129-132

Terrence stared at the small table in the corner of his cell, where a stack of books beckoned him, nagged him in a weird, silent way that he should be studying. Kinda like Momma used to tell him he should be doing his chores—without saying a single word. Just a look in her eyes...

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34. Sachi

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pp. 133-135

The question was like a slap in the face.
Mama wiped her nose with a handkerchief and asked again, “What would Papa think of you now?”
The words pulsed in Sachi’s ears. What-would-Papa-think-what-would- Papa-think-what-would-Papa-think...

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35. Nobu

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pp. 135-137

Nobu carried the last of the bags out of the stall. Mama and Sachi had already left, taking what they could carry to the area where they had been told to wait. In less than an hour, all of the families scheduled to...

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36. Terrence

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pp. 137-139

You ain’t never gonna be nothing, ’cause you just a stupid nigger.
Get a degree. Make something of yourself. Make a difference in this world.
Nothing but a nigger.
Make a difference in this world...

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37. Sachi

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pp. 139-141

Sachi had to find Sam before Mama and Nobu found her. “Sam!” She called over and over as she searched the crowd of people that milled around like wind-up dolls. “Sam, where are you?”...

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38. Nobu

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pp. 142-144

The train clacked and swayed through yellow summer heat that beat down from a cloudless blue sky. With windows to the outside world barely cracked open, the air was thick with the smell of too many people who hadn’t bathed in two days. Nobu rubbed his forehead. The attempt...

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39. Sachi

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pp. 145-148

It seemed like forever that they’d been on that stupid train. Sachi’s body hurt, and she was bored, bored, bored. At first, she could get comfortable on the hard seat by changing positions, but after four days, every position hurt. And she was darned tired of sitting next to Nobu. Tired of sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tired of using the stinky toilets..

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40. Terrence

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pp. 148-155

“Hey, Harris.” Sometimes that weasel guard’s voice was like nails on a chalkboard.
Terrence looked up from the history book on his lap. His stomach twisted when he saw the white boy slouched next to the guard.
The kid rubbed his hand back and forth on his crew-cut blond head and glared at Terrence with icy blue eyes...

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41. Nobu

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pp. 155-163

Drab. The word kept returning to Nobu’s mind. Everywhere he looked. Drab. Black tar paper on the outside of the barracks. Scant brown leaves, shriveled and clinging to tall, bare trees. Gray sky. Brown mud everywhere...

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42. Sachi

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pp. 163-170

Sachi walked out of the latrine, wiping her wet hands on her dress. She hated the public bathrooms more than anything else in the camp. Strange, the things she took for granted in her old life. Like privacy in the bathroom. Some of the women in camp covered their faces in the latrine, as if that would give them the privacy they needed...

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43. Nobu

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pp. 171-175

Something made Nobu shiver. Maybe it was because the streets were deserted, though he caught people peering from hidden places. He zipped his jacket and crossed his arms...

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44. Terrence

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pp. 176-179

Mr. Blake’s question kept coming back to haunt Terrence. Yeah, the Japs killed his father, and he never thought he could hate like he’d hated that day he found out. Still, if he’d known that man he beat up—killed—in the park that day was Nobu’s father, would he still have hated him?...

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45. Sachi

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pp. 180-184

Sachi stared at the ceiling, feeling her body wake with a good, sleepy stretch and yawn. She listened to the patter of light rain outside and imagined Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on the rooftop, like they did in the movies. The pitter-patter took her back to California, where she woke to the irregular cadence of drops falling from the elm...

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46. Nobu

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pp. 184-192

“I’ll be back in time to take you to the mess hall for lunch,” Nobu said as he buttoned his jacket.
“Be sure to get back before eleven, so we can leave early,” said Sachi. “It’ll probably be pretty crowded today, with everyone looking forward to turkey.”...

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47. Terrence

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pp. 193-197

Archy the Cockroach was back. From his bunk, Terrence watched the shiny, brown bug scurry into the cell from around the corner, clearly on a mission. Back at home he’d have leaped from his bed, grabbed a shoe, and smashed the critter to death. Back then, he’d even wondered why God put them on this earth...

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48. Sachi

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pp. 197-203

Relieved and angry at once, Sachi scolded Nobu, “I thought you’d never get back.”
She had been pacing the floor for almost half an hour, worried he wouldn’t return before Jubie and her family arrived with the food. If he didn’t get there before Jubie, he’d miss their big surprise. Not to mention she’d need his moral support if Mama got angry...

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49. Nobu

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pp. 204-206

Nobu had to admit—Sachi had really done it this time. When she opened the door to that colored family, he’d thought the same thing Mama had asked...

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50. Sachi

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pp. 207-212

Wind rattled the window. It crept into the tiny room like an intruder and brushed its icy fingers across Sachi’s face. She’d never been so cold, and shivered, even through her coat...

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51. Terrence

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pp. 212-220

Another long night. But then, Terrence didn’t know why it should be different from any other. Soon as it got quiet, things would start jumbling around in his mind, popping up as dreams that haunted him. Dreams of Daddy’s final minutes. What had his father been thinking about in...

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52. Nobu

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pp. 220-223

The day Nobu had looked forward to—but now dreaded—had arrived. Valentine’s Day. Until a week ago, he had anticipated showering Yuki with tokens of affection—chocolates he’d purchased in town. A haiku he’d written for her...

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53. Sachi

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pp. 224-236

Sachi looked in the mirror as she brushed her long hair and pulled it up into a red ribbon. Valentine’s Day! Next to Christmas, it was her favorite holiday, even if it wasn’t quite the same in camp as it had been in California—not as much candy, no stores to shop for valentines...

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54. Nobu

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pp. 236-240

The silence had been long and lonely since the day Nobu received notice that he would be transferred back to California. All those who had answered “no” to Question 27 and Question 28 were being sent to a...

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55. Terrence

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pp. 241-244

“Showers!” A guard called from the front of the corridor.
Terrence rubbed his forehead and scribbled out his umpteenth attempt at solving an algebra problem.
Carter waited at the cell door, scratching his belly. “You coming?”...

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56. Sachi

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pp. 245-247

A big, black hole. That’s what life felt like with Nobu gone. It was almost as bad as when Papa died. Sachi never thought much about having her brother around. He was just there. Though there were days she might not see him from the time she got up in the morning until time for her...

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57. Terrence

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pp. 248-254

Outcast. Nothing felt lonelier. ’Course the whites shunned Terrence, just like they always had. Every chance, Peachie gave him the evil eye and that stupid smirk, like he knew he was rubbing salt in the gash left from missing Carter. Then, there was the waiting. Waiting and wondering...

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58. Nobu

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pp. 254-257

Here I am in Tule Lake, California—Camp Disloyal. Like cattle, we’re moved from place to place at the whim of the American government. Maximum security. No way could it ever come close to feeling like home. Especially without Mama and Sachi here...

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59. Terrence

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pp. 258-262

Thirteen! Terrence couldn’t believe his little sister was a teenager, and he felt kinda sad about the “little girl” time he’d missed. He drummed the table to clear his mind. This was supposed to be a happy day, with Momma bringing Patty and Missy for a birthday celebration later on. He’d been...

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60. Sachi

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pp. 262-265

Obon! The Buddhist custom was one of Sachi’s favorite times of year. Strange that honoring the dead could be such fun. Three days of beautiful colors and yummy delights, when all the women would gather to prepare the Japanese food she had missed so much since being in camp. She giggled, listening to them whisper about secret stashes of special...

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61. Terrence

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pp. 266-270

Terrence stared at Patty’s letter. God, he couldn’t wait to get out of that miserable cell. Helplessness overwhelmed him and settled heavy as the biscuits and gravy he’d had for breakfast...

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62. Sachi

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pp. 271-276

It seemed like it had been raining forever. But at last, patches of blue appeared between gray clouds that drifted away from camp. Sometimes, sunlight cast shadows; but like ghosts, they disappeared when the monster gray clouds shoved the sun behind them again...

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63. Terrence

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pp. 277-280

Release time was noon. Terrence could hardly stand waiting and paced back and forth at the cell door. He checked the clock in the corridor. Eleven o’clock.
Back and forth. Back and forth. How many paces until noon?...

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64. Sachi

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pp. 281-283

Sachi couldn’t wait to understand how they had remained separated from Papa all this time. Maybe if she understood, she would finally believe it was all real, not a dream...

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65. Sachi

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pp. 284-288

The day had finally arrived. Mama and Papa’s twenty-second wedding anniversary! Sachi concentrated hard on designing the card she would give to them later that afternoon. Beneath a large “22” she’d written on a piece of paper, she began to draw a bride and groom...

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66. Nobu

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pp. 288-289

This camp is an angry place. My brothers—those I march with—are full of rage. Many talk of going to Japan. Some are defiant, even to the armed guards. They find themselves in lockup as a result. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes—American soldiers throwing American citizens...

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67. Sachi

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pp. 290-291

Of course, Sachi knew what a bomb was. But Papa said the one that fell on Hiroshima was an atomic bomb. She had never heard that word before—atomic. He wouldn’t tell her much, but she knew something very bad had happened. If only he understood; wondering was much...

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68. Sachi

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pp. 292-293

Sachi pulled the pillow over her head and shut her eyes. Why did Mama and Papa have to argue all the time? That day Papa arrived from Jerome—the day she learned he was alive—she thought nothing in the world would ever be wrong again...

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69. Nobu

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pp. 294-297

“Here’s your mail,” Ichiro said, tossing a letter onto the table in front of Nobu.
As soon as Nobu saw it was from Papa, he tore it open. A year and a half since Papa had shown up alive in Rohwer, and still, he couldn’t believe it. He hadn’t seen Papa yet, though he wondered about him constantly...

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70. Sachi

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pp. 297-301

“Sachiko, come here, please,” Mama called from the living room.
Sachi rolled her eyes. What now? She closed the book she’d been reading and tossed it on the bed. “I’m coming.” She huffed and threw aside the curtain that divided her room...

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71. Sachi

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pp. 301-306

Sachi found it strange, even upsetting. Why did she hesitate to get on the bus that would take her and Papa to Little Rock? It wasn’t like they were being taken to a place unknown, like when they left California. This time, they would not be imprisoned behind barbed wire or made...

Further Reading, About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 307-309

E-ISBN-13: 9781610755184
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289940

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013