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Of White Ashes: A WWII historical novel inspired by true events
by Constance Hays Matsumoto and Kent Matsumoto

Published: 2023-05-01T00:0
Paperback : 388 pages
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"Leaves the reader with a new awareness of history and a deeper appreciation of the human heart." -Lois Lowry, author of Number the Stars and The Giver

"An introspective, emotional novel that will draw readers in."—Kirkus Reviews

The bombing of Pearl Harbor propels America into ...

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Introduction

"Leaves the reader with a new awareness of history and a deeper appreciation of the human heart." -Lois Lowry, author of Number the Stars and The Giver

"An introspective, emotional novel that will draw readers in."—Kirkus Reviews

The bombing of Pearl Harbor propels America into WWII and two Japanese Americans into chaos.

Separated by the Pacific, each embarks on a tumultuous path to survive childhood and live the American dream. Ruby Ishimaru loses her liberty and uproots from her Hawaii home to incarceration camps on the mainland. Koji Matsuo strains under the menacing clouds of the Japanese war machine and atomic bombing while concealing a dangerous secret-one that threatens his family's safety.

When destiny brings Ruby and Koji together in California, their chemistry is magnetic, but wounds of trauma run deep and threaten their love as another casualty of war.

Inspired by the true stories of the authors' family, Of White Ashes crosses oceans and cultures, illuminating the remarkable lives of ordinary people who endure seemingly unbearable hardship with dignity and patience. Their experiences compel us to reflect on the resilience of humanity and the risk of history repeating.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

Excerpt from the Tule Lake Chapter: An entry from Ruby Ishimaru’s diary.


May 30, 1944
Dear Diary,
They closed school this afternoon to remember and honor the service personnel who died while serving in the armed forces. Beyond the gates, I imagine families are enjoying fried chicken and potato salad picnics, attending parades, and visiting gravesites of loved ones. But in here, we are one day closer to resuming the lives we took for granted. Hopefully, anyway. We’re totally out of touch with the outside world. How do people adapt to the daily routines of being stuck inside these fences? It’s weird, but some do. I won’t. NOT. EVER. Time and space have changed and yet many of the kids in my high school act as though everything’s okay. I guess they’ve accepted being locked up, and it doesn’t bother them. NINCOMPOOPS! ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. How familiar were you with the WWII Japanese American incarceration before reading this novel? Has your understanding of the incarceration changed in any way and, if so, how?

2. Hibakusa (Japanese for atomic-bomb affected people) commonly suffered monstrous injuries and emotional trauma, effects from radiation, and life-long fear of radiation exposure, including sterilization. How might you explain Koji’s ability to move on after experiencing the bombing of Hiroshima?

3. How do the racial issues and events in the book relate to events happening today? How does the threat of nuclear war relate to events happening today?

4. How would you describe the relationship between Ruby and Koji? What drew them together and forced them apart? How were Ruby and Koji different and how might these differences have affected their relationship?

5. In the end, do you think Ruby was happy with her life? Why or why not?

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by Jane L. (see profile) 09/02/23

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