Wednesday, July 31, 2013

EXCERPTS from RISING SUN, FALLING STAR by Vickie Hall. Give Away and Review

by Vickie Hall
Genre: Historical - Based on a true story
             WWII, Japan

Different eyes and skin
Mock me from the mirror’s light
Enemy am I.
Dec 7, 1941
Today my life changed forever . . . I am no longer considered American, but by shear heritage I am now the hated enemy . . .
The lives of Kenji and Aiko Onishi and their American-born children are about to unravel when the United States is thrust into war with Japan. Confronted by insurmountable prejudice and fear, the family is ripped from their California home without just cause by the American government and sent to an assembly center “for their own protection.”
Forced to live in deplorable circumstances, every aspect of their lives regulated and controlled, the Onishi’s freedoms are stripped from their grasp as they struggle to survive behind barbed wire. It isn’t long before the mind-numbing confinement and feelings of helplessness begin to pit the family against one another.
When sent to a relocation camp in the center of the Utah desert, they’re beset by ever increasing emotional and physical challenges, and Aiko is faced with her greatest yet: to mend the broken spirits of her family, or risk losing them forever.
Based on true and tragic events that transpired during World War II, Rising Sun, Falling Star is a heart-rending story of one family’s struggle to survive uncalculated loss and emotional destruction.

Author Vickie Hall
Vickie is a native of Utah, but growing up, lived in the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska. When she’s not writing, she’s composing music, or shopping with her sister. She loves animals of all kinds and camping with her family. Her favorite pastime is watching old movies on TCM, and unashamedly has a crush on Cary Grant.


Excerpt 1:

Ken leaned over the window display to get a better view. Two men in dark suits exited the vehicle and went into the building next door. They didn’t look like the sort of men who drove a panel truck. The hair on the back of his neck prickled to attention. He stepped outside but kept himself back, just inside the doorway.
Ken held his breath as the two men escorted Gary Fujita from the building and ordered him inside the truck. When they opened the door, Ken saw other men sitting inside, Japanese men, with an armed guard standing between them. His blood turned to ice. He fought the urge to rush to the aid of his friend, to demand his release, but he didn’t want to end up in the truck as well.
“Where is your probable cause?” Gary demanded.
“Being Japanese is probable cause,” one of the men replied, shoving Gary inside.

Excerpt 2:
 Aiko reciprocated with a bow and then left the shop. The moist air sent a chill through her body. She clutched her collar around her neck and walked to the butcher shop. Her soul felt as damp as the atmosphere, her heart as bleak as the slate-colored sky overhead. When she neared Mr. Koslowski’s butcher shop, she came to an abrupt stop. In front was a large hand-painted sign in the store window. “NO JAPS ALLOWED.” Aiko stood there blinking at the sign, her sensibilities shocked by the ugly words. She peered above the lettering and saw the familiar face of Mr. Koslowski as he assisted a customer, his affable smile still the same.
Aiko’s shoulders slumped with understanding, then she turned away, raised her chin, straightened her shoulders, and walked down the street to the Busy Bee Market. Her dinner plans had changed.

Excerpt 3:

“Mama, what’s wrong?”
“Come with me,” she ordered. “Hurry.”
Meri pulled hard against her mother’s tightened grasp. “Mama, what’s happened? Where are we going?”
“You see,” she said, breathless with her quickened steps. She made a beeline to the telephone pole by the post office. Meri followed, a look of dread splashed across her face as they came to a stop in front of the sign. “Tell me what say,” she said, pointing.
Meri cradled her books in her arm and stared up at the sign. She began to read and her eyes widened. “Mama,” she gasped, “we’re being evacuated!”
Aiko’s stone-like face never flinched as she absorbed the news. “What else it say?”
Meri spun toward her mother. “Where are they sending us? What’s going to happen to us?”
Aiko lifted her chin toward the sign. “Read more.”
Meri blinked back tears and turned to face the sign. “A responsible member of the family must report tomorrow to the Civil Control Station for further instructions between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.”
Aiko motioned to Meri’s books. “Write down what it say.”
Aiko touched her daughter’s arm. “We be fine,” she said, adding a soft smile. “Write down.”
Meri’s hands were shaking as she took out a pencil and opened her notebook. She wrote down all of the instructions posted on the sign in careful detail. When she had finished, she looked at her mother with beseeching eyes. “Oh, Mama . . . this is horrible. It’s not fair!” Meri exclaimed, coming alongside her mother. “It’s just not fair!”
                Aiko could see the desperation in her daughter’s expression and brushed Meri’s cheek with the back of her fingers. “Meri, fallen blossom cannot return to branch. We pick up pieces and wait for new blossom.”   

Excerpt 4:

Meri felt a shiver run down her spine at the sight of the armed men. What slight infraction would cause them to use their weapons? Following her parents, Meri stepped from the bus, trying to keep her focus straight ahead. Her mother shielded her hat with her handbag in a vain attempt to ward off the rain, though its long pheasant feather drooped with the weight of the water.
Meri kept a wary eye on the soldiers and then allowed herself to scan her surroundings. Ahead lay the racetrack and the grandstand. Her mouth fell open. It wasthe Tanforan Racetrack. Soldiers began shouting orders to separate the males and females. Meri felt a shimmer of panic as she gripped her mother’s hand and was led away from her father and brothers.
Soaked to the bone, Meri and her mother fell in line with the others, her eyes darting about while her heart filled with trepidation. They filed into a large room and were ordered to strip off their wet clothes.
Meri looked at her mother in horror. “Mama,” she whispered, “we’ll be naked.”
Aiko gave her daughter a sympathetic look. For Meri, it was a mortifying thought. Even after gymnastics at school, the girls had some privacy for showers and dressing. She was never naked at home, except in the solitude of her own room or the bathroom. She’d never even seen her mother naked. Meri wanted to crawl beneath the benches that lined the walls, or pull up a floor plank and disappear into the sour earth below.

Excerpt 5:

Tonight there was something new on the menu: liver. Meri looked at the brownish-gray, overcooked lump of organ meat and grimaced. Organ meats were considered inedible in Japanese culture, and the thought of tasting such a thing repulsed her. She moved down the line to receive a boiled potato, a scoop of canned peas, a piece of bread, and cold tea.
In turn, each member of her family was served the same grotesque provisions. When their cups were filled with tea, Frank and Jeff peeled away from the family and went to find their separate groups of friends. Reluctantly, Meri followed her parents toward a spot at a table several yards away. She had no group of friends to sit with, and eating with her parents became more and more distasteful to her.
Meri stared at the liver, its smell turning her stomach. She poked at its rubber-like texture with the tines of her fork.
Aiko looked across the table at her. “You eat,” she encouraged. “Long time to breakfast.”
Meri scowled and her upper lip curled into a sneer. “I’m not eating this garbage. I’d rather die.”
Ken filled his spoon with the mushy, pale-green peas. “Our troops are eating a lot less and a lot worse than this. If they can do it, so can we.”
Meri’s eyes narrowed to burning slits. “Who cares what the troops are eating?” she countered. “It’s Hirohito’s fault they’re eating garbage over there, and it’s your fault I’m eating garbage over here!”
Meri’s fingers slid beneath the lip of her plate and with a twist, the plate flew up and across the table, landing upside down next to her mother. She exploded from the bench and pushed her way through the crowds to the door of the mess hall.

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My 5 Star Review

I received this book from the Tour Host for an honest review.
The Onishi family, although fictional gave a good glimpse in the lives of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. While the war was fought in Europe, the author focused on the family's life inside the prison camp and how they battled to overcome the tremendous difficult times. Each character portrait hope, loss, depression, honor and loyalty in different scenarios. Each battling with the overall weight of encampment and what it meant to them.
The moment the first bomb fell in Pearl Harbor the lives of thousands of Japanese, German and Italian American citizens changed drastically, to become the enemy of the state. Losing business and homes overnight. The effects of this could be seen throughout the story.
Each character touching the heartstrings in their battle to become humans again, seeking the validation not only from them selves but from a country who clearly wronged them. Building a town within the confinements to establish some sense of normalcy for all involved.  Battling with ill-equipped hospitals, schools and food shortages while people demanded to be heard.
I must say Aiko Onishi, the mother of the family really touched my heart. Keeping her faith alive in the midst of all the anger, depression and shortages. She did not allow her children the luxury of being despaired for too long. Setting an example and reaching out to those less fortunate than them. Keeping her family under her wing when dealing with lack, death, sickness, secrets, suicide and murder. Her character strong but yet fragile as she copes with everything happening around her.
Meri, her daughter's struggle with depression, her new environment, away from the familiar, seeking a sense in all of the uprooting of their lives believable and heartfelt. 
Frank, her son's continues battle to be true to his own principles standing for what he believes and will pay the price no matter what. Romancing Robin and beginning with a family in the midst of the prison camp. 
The book was well crafted, each scene beautifully illustrated, and a building block to the plot that unfolds a heart warming and gripping story in the American history. The letters between Karen and Meri capturing the essences of the struggles on a more personal level.
Overall a great read that was properly researched and well written.


  1. Great review, thank you. I also enjoyed the excerpts.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Ingeborg.