by Cynthia Kadohata
In this book we meet an Japanese American girl, Sumiko. She lives with her aunt and uncle (and brother, cousins, and grandfather) on a flower farm, and they make a living by selling flowers. The flowers are the center of her life, and her dream is to open a flower shop when she's an adult.
Over the course of the book Sumiko's dreams are dashed by
circumstances she doesn't fully understand. Or to put it less poetically, she learns a few lessons about how the world works.
In the beginning of the book she is mostly carefree and happy, and her only concern is the well being of her flowers. She doesn't have any friends at school and is the only Japanese girl in her class, but that's ok because she has her family and her plants. Sumiko is also aware of WWII, and that there is some tension between the USA and Japan, but she doesn't pay much attention to it. To her it is a distant matter, and even if trouble were to come to her home she trusted that her uncle could protect her.
But her world quickly begins to fall apart, beginning with a birthday party. The party is on December 6th, in 1941. Her whole class has been invited to the party, but when Sumiko shows up the mother of the birthday girl uninvites her because she is Japanese. It is Sumiko's first experience with racism.
The next day, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
After Pearl Harbor she learns that despite her assumptions that her uncle could protect her, he cannot prevent the US government from taking away the only home she has ever known. Less than six months after Pearl Harbor Sumiko's family is split up and she is put in a camp with other Japanese Americans. Sumiko doesn't want to be in the camp. And the Native Americans whose reservation the camp is in don't want her there either.
Despite the content of Weedflower, I don't think I would call it a heart breaking novel. It is definitely very sad, but somehow there is still hope even when Sumiko cannot imagine what will happen to her family next, or what to expect from her government next.
I really liked this book and would recommend it. In an endnote the author says that the particular camp Sumiko was sent to did really exist on a reservation.
by Bill Amend
Really fun, especially since the last time I'd read any FoxTrot was a while ago. If you're bored and want some laughs, I recommend it. I recommend any of the FoxTrot books, actually. :)