This novel for middle readers takes place in a Japanese internment camp in China in WWII, where thirteen-year-old Gwen follows the Girl Guide code in order to survive.
The story is set against the backdrop of an atmosphere of increasing hostility and racist attacks upon the Japanese community that culminates in the internment. Then Michiko and her family are sent away. With such enormous barriers between them, Esther and Michiko are left to their own devices as to how to mend their friendship.
Based on a true story of events during World War II in China City, a 12-year-old Chinese American girl named Mei Ling Lee was separated from her best friend Yayeko Akiyama when she and her family were interned in the Manzanar War Relocation Center. By writing letters to each other, both young girls recounted their lives and hardships in China City and Manzanar. This unprecedented children’s book depicts the cross-cultural experiences of Americans of Chinese and Japanese ancestry during the war years.
Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to.
That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions grow, Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. The vivid color of her previous life is gone forever, and now dust storms regularly choke the sky and seep into every crack of the military barrack that is her new “home.”
Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they’d been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend…if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the internment camp is on his tribe’s land.
Weedflower is reviewed in WOW Review: Reading Across Cultures, Volume I, Issue 2.