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Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Hi, Laura! 

 

I'm so glad you enjoyed how the relationship between Maddie and Kumiko developed. It feels a bit silly admitting this (because, duh, I wrote the thing), but every time I had to reread/edit the emotional confrontation between them at the end of the book, I couldn't make it through without shedding a few tears -- particuarly when Maddie was slapped and voiced her question about wanting to know why she wasn't enough incentive to make Lane come home. 

 

Thanks so much for your kind words about the military scenes. I definitely strove to find a balance between realism and readership, given that my story wasn't mean to be a graphic, violent book about the gruesomenss of war. This was particularly a challenge while writing the POW scenes, since the accounts I'd read while researching were truly horrific. What I discovered as I penned the scene in which the two marines were beaten and killed was that it wasn't necessary to "show" the reader what was happening. For the most part, TJ only "heard" what was happening, and all in the context of singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and yet I hope it still conveyed the terror the POWs were enduring on a daily basis. 

 

It's wonderful to know that the story prompted you to research more about Manzanar. As you can clearly see from images of the camp, these people were sadly placed in the middle of nowhere. 

 

 


Fozzie wrote:

 

Of course, my opinion of Lane’s mother changed.  It was great to see the relationship that developed between she and Maddie.  Chapter 48 was one of my favorite parts of the book because then I felt I knew Kumiko.  And Maddie did too.  The end of Chapter 66, a scene as Maddie and Kumiko deal with Lane’s death, was very powerful.

 

I cannot say whether or not Lane’s ultimate sacrifice was worth it or not.  His mother is at peace with it, so I am too.  As she says on page 419, at the end of the book, “Takeshi fight for America, die for country.  Finally I see, this is home.  Family is here.  And always, Kyoto inside, ne?” 

 

I thought the author left TJ and Jo in a very realistic place in their relationship.  Time will tell if their relationship will develop and blossom.

 

I normally do not like to read about military scenes in a book.  To Kristina’s credit, I found the scenes she wrote to be just right for me.  They took me into the action, revealed what was necessary, but did not wallow in maneuvers and violence.  Also, the inclusion of Eddie, the Japanese American in the Japanese army, added humanity to the Japanese military side of the story, plus just made for a few really interesting plot twists.

 

I love books that teach me something new and make me curious about places and events far away or in the past.  Of course, this book made me curious about the internment camp, Manzanar.  I looked at the image results from my Google search “Manzanar historic photos,” and they made the book come alive for me!

 




Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

I'm thrilled you enjoyed the quotes at the start of each chapter, Laura! 

 

And yes, you're absolutely right about the meaning of the dedication. For me, it was a reference to the peaceful internees and the humble Nisei servicemen. In both cases, they did what they needed to do in order to protect their families and to help future generations. As the saying went, "Kodomo no tame ni" -- for the sake of the children. 

 

When I stumbled across "The Bridge Builder," it struck such a strong chord within me, I couldn't imagine ending the book any other way. :smileyhappy:

 


Fozzie wrote:

I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each part very much.  I liked reading the quotes as thoughts unto themselves, and then I thought about how it fit into the story as a whole, and specifically in that part of the story, and that gave them even more meaning.

 

I’d like to talk about the dedication, “For those whose voices stayed silent so that one day others could sing.”  I think this must have more than one meaning.  What do you all think it means?  I think the voices who stayed silent were the Japanese Americans who endured internment peacefully.  In that case, the others who could sing one day would be all Japanese Americans, past, present, and future.  Their reputations would not be tarnished over the long term as a result of the internment.

 

Also, I thought that the poem that ended the book, “The Bridge Builder,” was a great complement to the dedication.




Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Laura, everything you mentioned here is exactly where the title originated. Bridges also symbolize the closing of a gap between hearts, people, and cultures. And yes, leaves are most definitely a symbol of seasons and change. To me, a scarlet leaf is at its most beautiful state right before it withers...which is why I found it fitting for the story.  

 

It also refers to Kumiko's song from this excerpt:

 

"Emma whispered the translation to Maddie, seated on the rug beside her. She related verses of standing on a temple’s bridge: during Momiji, the season of viewing leaves, the trees in Kyoto blaze red and gold; their youthful green is gone, changed with no choice; the branch yearns to hold on, but a cold wind blows and the last leaf falls; a mere reflection on water remains, a memory of red and gold."

 


Fozzie wrote:

I’d like to talk about the meaning of the title, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. 

 

In the discussion questions at the end of the book, number one states that the title was inspired by an ancient haiku.

 

On page 316, at the end of Chapter 54, Maddie thinks, “Long since divided, [Maddie, TJ, Lane, and Jo] had entered the “bridge” of their lives.  In music, that’s what they called the transitional period.  A time to reflect on what had passed and to prepare for a new phase.”  To me, this explains the meaning of bridge in the title.  The book is about transitions that the characters and the country as a whole makes, from the period before World War II, during that war, and then in the period after the war. 

 

However, I am not sure what scarlet leaves means.  The discussion question refers to the poem at the beginning of Part One.  The scarlet leaves symbolize a tree during autumn, a time of transition.  The poem talks about how every leaf is a part of the tree until right before it falls.  I assume that each character/person is a leaf, during a time of transition, ready to fall, and see himself for the first time, as the poem says.

 

Thoughts?




Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

I think the aspect of honor was actually the most surprising part to my husband upon reading the manuscript. Being raised between both cultures myself, something I had taken for granted until he pointed it out was the great difference between the American and Japanese views of "honor." In America, I think we tend to view honor as a reward we earn by doing something valuable that stands out from the crowd; whereas, for the Japanese, one could say it's almost a burden they carry from the start, something you don't want to risk losing for you or your family by standing out from the crowd. 

 


Fozzie wrote:

Another aspect of the book which I found made the book unique and interesting was the concept of honor and what it meant to the Japanese.  As a modern American, I wouldn’t have made some of the choices that the Japanese characters did.  Can you imagine a group of people peacefully evacuating their homes for an internment camp today?  Could you imagine your son, an American citizen, fighting for the opposing side in a war?  Kristina really made me understand the way Japanese feel about honor.




Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

PS -- I'll also add a note here.... when Nisei soldiers were sent off for deployment, their parents wouldn't typcially say, "Be courageous" or "brave," etc. Instead, they would say, "Don't bring shame on the family." This saying makes much more sense if you understand the context of the culture, as I mentioned below.

 


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

I think the aspect of honor was actually the most surprising part to my husband upon reading the manuscript. Being raised between both cultures myself, something I had taken for granted until he pointed it out was the great difference between the American and Japanese views of "honor." In America, I think we tend to view honor as a reward we earn by doing something valuable that stands out from the crowd; whereas, for the Japanese, one could say it's almost a burden they carry from the start, something you don't want to risk losing for you or your family by standing out from the crowd. 

 

Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

How funny, Deb! You were way ahead of me on this one. Guess I should have read all of the posts before replying. Ah, well... a day late and a dollar short. Right? LOL. 

 


dhaupt wrote:

 

I found this interview given by Kristina about where the title came fromt:

Kristina: The title Bridge of Scarlet Leaves was inspired by an ancient Japanese haiku. It described standing on a famous bridge in Kyoto during momiji, meaning “leaf-viewing season,” when all of the leaves in the valley turn vibrant red and gold. I felt the combination of words fit perfectly with my story, since a bridge not only closes the gap between cultures, hearts, and people, but in classical music — given that my protagonist is a violinist — it’s the transitional, reflective period prior to reaching the climax. As for leaves, which symbolize change, I envision them as scarlet at their most beautiful stage, right before they wither.

 

 

 

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

 

It's wonderful to know that the story prompted you to research more about Manzanar. As you can clearly see from images of the camp, these people were sadly placed in the middle of nowhere. 

 

 


Yes, they were in the middle of nowhere, but I have to say, some of the pictures of women arriving in camp were like travel catalog pictures.  The women looked so glamorous, were smiling, and looked like they were on a pleasure trip.  That was surprising!

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

Laura, everything you mentioned here is exactly where the title originated. Bridges also symbolize the closing of a gap between hearts, people, and cultures. And yes, leaves are most definitely a symbol of seasons and change. To me, a scarlet leaf is at its most beautiful state right before it withers...which is why I found it fitting for the story.  

 

It also refers to Kumiko's song from this excerpt:

 

"Emma whispered the translation to Maddie, seated on the rug beside her. She related verses of standing on a temple’s bridge: during Momiji, the season of viewing leaves, the trees in Kyoto blaze red and gold; their youthful green is gone, changed with no choice; the branch yearns to hold on, but a cold wind blows and the last leaf falls; a mere reflection on water remains, a memory of red and gold."

 


I love not only books that make me think, but titles of books that do too!

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012
0 Kudos

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

I would venture to guess the pictures you saw were taken by photographers commissioned by the government. (Cameras were otherwise not allowed in camp.) Many were used for propoganda, to assure the public how well the "evacuees" were being cared for. Here is a video that was released by the Office of War Information for that same purpose: 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_rk3RP5KQs

 

 


Fozzie wrote:

Yes, they were in the middle of nowhere, but I have to say, some of the pictures of women arriving in camp were like travel catalog pictures.  The women looked so glamorous, were smiling, and looked like they were on a pleasure trip.  That was surprising!




Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

I would venture to guess the pictures you saw were taken by photographers commissioned by the government. (Cameras were otherwise not allowed in camp.) Many were used for propoganda, to assure the public how well the "evacuees" were being cared for. Here is a video that was released by the Office of War Information for that same purpose: 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_rk3RP5KQs

 

 


Fozzie wrote:

Yes, they were in the middle of nowhere, but I have to say, some of the pictures of women arriving in camp were like travel catalog pictures.  The women looked so glamorous, were smiling, and looked like they were on a pleasure trip.  That was surprising!





Thank you Kristina that was an eye opening video.

It kind of reminds me of the propaganda of the Nazi's and the train station at Auschwitz how it's flower boxes and festive paint made it look inviting.

If you were a part of FirstLook Laura you might remember how Sara Blake The Postmistress   penned it.

And we're going back to WWII later this year when we read The Thief of Auschwitz   and the author Jon Clinch also describes this train station.

 

Scribe
ReadingPatti
Posts: 2,530
Registered: ‎10-24-2008

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Deb, I was not sure because I was not sure that they could overcome their loses in their lives. But after thinking about it I really believe that they love each other and will make a life for themselves as a couple.

 

Sometimes it takes being apart to know that you love that person and can't live without them.

 

I was really sad that Lane died. I so wanted him to make it.

 

ReadingPatti

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

I would venture to guess the pictures you saw were taken by photographers commissioned by the government. (Cameras were otherwise not allowed in camp.) Many were used for propoganda, to assure the public how well the "evacuees" were being cared for. Here is a video that was released by the Office of War Information for that same purpose: 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_rk3RP5KQs

 

 


Effective propoganda!  I found myself almost believing what I saw in the video!

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

[ Edited ]

All I can say is, Wow! A lot of really interesting discussion over the last 24 hours! I finally made it home, relatively painlessly (although there is now a certain airline that has become 'persona non grata' for me...). So, I'm not going to whine here, just let it be known that I am not a happy traveler these days.  :smileywink:

 

Laura and April, you've said it all, and so nicely! I was surprised when Lane enlisted, but I came to understand his reasoning. And this book really helped bring home for me the whole concept of honor in Japanese culture. Although I'm not done, I know where the story is going, but I'm not putting it down until I'm finished. I will make a full confession here; I dreaded this book at the beginning. As I get older, I find that I have a harder and harder time reading books when it's apparent that someone in the book is going to be hurt, particularly someone I like. I know that's ridiculous, we're talking about fictional characters, but still it's hard. I really place myself in a book when I read. But I marched on, and now I can't put it down. I was actually a little sad when my plane was starting its descent, it meant I had to turn off my Nook.

 

My favorite character? Kumiko. So brave, had to endure so much and keep herself together. Her husband detained, her son - married to Maddie, and then enlisted, and then her daughter being hurt. Of course she was always a caring mother, but she couldn't allow that face to show. The bridge analogy is so apt here - she had a foot in each country, and in the end had to choose. 

 

I can't comment much more here - while I know the basics of what happens, I need to wrap those basics in the words. 

Elaine

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
Wordsmith
elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Oh, one more thing - 

Kristina, thank you not only for this book, but for all of your comments and participation. It's such a pleasure to be able to hear from the author the reasoning and ideas behind a story! I hope we have the opportunity to visit with you again!

Elaine

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Elaine, I'm glad you made it home relatively unscathed :smileyhappy:

as regular a traveler as you are your new enemy number one must have really ticked you off, alas they are not the friendly skies they once were.

 

Also as a side note, we were watching TV last night The Texas Country Reporter on our favorite channel RFD TV, a station dedicated to Rural America and one of the segments was dedicated to the interment camp in Crystal City TX. How Texas historical society decided to inform today's citizens about who were intered and why. This particular camp was unique because it housed Japanese, Italians and Germans, it was huge and what the host said reflects what I've said before, how so many people didn't even know we intered these people and how our history books didn't teach us about this either.

 

 

Wordsmith
elaine_hf
Posts: 389
Registered: ‎01-05-2010
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

I know this is way out in left field, but I'm going to share it anyway.... A friend in Tulsa and I have decided to add to our list of way too many craft projects and are going to take a knitting class, next time I'm up there. We also chose a small crochet project, just to warm up, and I have to confess it's been decades since I've done that sort of thing. So - I was poking about, looking for basic instructions, and I came across this image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AnselAdamscrochet.jpg 

A woman crocheting in Manzanar - it just seemed so timely! What a beautiful young woman - is she really that happy? Is this propaganda?? Anyway, I felt compelled to share this. So odd to run across it now.

Elaine

 

 

 

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Elaine, thanks for sharing that. And it's not in left field at all.

Good luck on your upcoming projects and maybe you could share pics with us too.

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


elaine_hf wrote:

I know this is way out in left field, but I'm going to share it anyway.... A friend in Tulsa and I have decided to add to our list of way too many craft projects and are going to take a knitting class, next time I'm up there. We also chose a small crochet project, just to warm up, and I have to confess it's been decades since I've done that sort of thing. So - I was poking about, looking for basic instructions, and I came across this image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AnselAdamscrochet.jpg 

A woman crocheting in Manzanar - it just seemed so timely! What a beautiful young woman - is she really that happy? Is this propaganda?? Anyway, I felt compelled to share this. So odd to run across it now.

Elaine

 


Seems like perfect timing --- You obviously were supposed to read the book and then do the crocheting project!  Cool!

 

 

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Author
Kristina_McMorris
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-28-2012
0 Kudos

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


elaine_hf wrote:

I know this is way out in left field, but I'm going to share it anyway.... A friend in Tulsa and I have decided to add to our list of way too many craft projects and are going to take a knitting class, next time I'm up there. We also chose a small crochet project, just to warm up, and I have to confess it's been decades since I've done that sort of thing. So - I was poking about, looking for basic instructions, and I came across this image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AnselAdamscrochet.jpg 

A woman crocheting in Manzanar - it just seemed so timely! What a beautiful young woman - is she really that happy? Is this propaganda?? Anyway, I felt compelled to share this. So odd to run across it now.

Elaine


Elaine, I'm so happy you arrived home in one piece after your travel whirlwind! And I'm thrilled you enjoyed the story so much. Thank YOU for posting this photo and how you stumbled across it. The conncection actually gave me chills.  :smileyhappy: