In the early 1920's, Japanese college profressor Masao Takashimaya of Kyoto had a passion for modern ideas that was as strong as his wife's belief in ancient tradition. Twenty years later, his 18-year-old daughter Hiroko, torn between her mother's traditions and her father's wishes, boarded SS Nagoya Maru to come to California for an education, and to make her father proud.
It was August 1941.
To Hiroko, California, and the home of her uncle Takeo, was a different world. Her cousins in California had become more American than Japanese. And Peter Jenkins, her uncle's assistant at Stanford, became an unexpected link between her old world and her new. At college in Berkeley, her world is rapidly and unexpectedly filled with prejudice and fear.
And when Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, within hours, Hiroko has become an enemy in a foreign land. Desperate to go home, she is ordered by her father to stay. He is positive she will be safer in California than at home, and for a brief time she is -- until her entire world caves in.
On February 19, Executive Order 9066 is signed by President Roosevelt, giving the military the power to remove the Japanese from their communities at will. Takeo and his family are given ten days to sell their home, give up their jobs, and report to a relocation center, along with thousands of other Japanese and Japanese Americans, to face their destinies there. Hiroko and her uncle's family go first to Tanforan, and from there to the detention center at Tule Lake. This extraordinary novel tells what happened to them there, creating a portrait of human tragedy and strength, divided loyalties and love. It tells of Americans who were treated as foreigners in their own land. And it tells Hiroko's story, and that of her American family, as they fight to stay alive amid the drama of life and death in the camp at Tule Lake.