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dhaupt
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Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

I can't believe we're at the end of our read, the world once again rushes to another month.

Let's get started

 

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves
Week Three Parts 5, 6 & 7

 

 

Characters; have your opinions of anyone changed?

 

Lane’s ultimate sacrifice. Was it worth it?
Why or why not

 

TJ & Jo, are you happy with where the author left them?

 

Talk about the ceremony. Was it enough?

 

Final thoughts

 

Five years ahead-again I’m asking you to turn the clock forward tell me where you think everyone is.

Wordsmith
elaine_hf
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Okay, I will apologize right now - I'm in Tulsa this week for business, my bag didn't make it with me, my flight was delayed for 3+ hours....sorry, just had to whine a teeny bit. I'll chime in a little later this week, when things have settled!

Elaine

‎"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -Bokonon
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ReadingPatti
Posts: 2,530
Registered: ‎10-24-2008

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Characters; have your opinions of anyone changed? I think that they changed because of what they went through. I am sure that they did.

 

Lane’s ultimate sacrifice. Was it worth it? Why or why not=Very touching that he would choose to go and save TJ. I think he knew that it was worth it.

 

TJ & Jo, are you happy with where the author left them? I am not sure.

 

Talk about the ceremony. Was it enough? Yes, I think it helped them all.

 

Final thoughts- This was a good book and something we all need to think about.

 

Five years ahead-again I’m asking you to turn the clock forward tell me where you think everyone is.- I would hope that the couples got together and had happy lives.

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dhaupt
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


elaine_hf wrote:

Okay, I will apologize right now - I'm in Tulsa this week for business, my bag didn't make it with me, my flight was delayed for 3+ hours....sorry, just had to whine a teeny bit. I'll chime in a little later this week, when things have settled!

Elaine


Oh Elaine you are so right to be able to whine, what a mess. Ah the life of a traveler

 

so sorry. Will wait to hear from you and hope that the rest of your week is great.

Distinguished Wordsmith
aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

[ Edited ]

I think my opinion of Kumiko has changed the most. When we first meet her she is so closed off. She doesn't approve of Maddie and Lane being together and when Maddie shows up at the internment camp she is less than welcoming. She even kept Emma at an arm's length. When Emma is unconscious at the internment camp though, we begin to see a new side to Kumiko. She softens toward Emma, never leaving her side. As time goes on, Kumiko forms a bond with Maddie and begins to open up to her about her past. The more we learn about Kumiko, the more I began to love her and understand the situations that occurred in her life that kept her distanced from others. Her relationship with Maddie continued to blossom even more after the birth of Suzie and it was wonderful to see how welcoming and loving she could be. By the end of the book she ended up being one of my favorite characters.

 

Another character who changed my opinion drastically was Eddie, aka Dopey. When we first meet him, he was a member of the Japanese Army. When we learn of his circumstances, he was really an American and was in Japan when Pearl Harbor occurred and only joined the Japanese Army because he was conscripted, I began to feel for his situation. The more talks he had with TJ and the more he tried to help TJ as much as he could in the prison camp, the more I liked him. When he shot the guard trying to kill TJ and Lane gave him his white armband to prove he was American, I couldn't stop crying. Even on his deathbed Lane was generous and forgiving and I could feel Eddie's relief that his charade was over and he could be an American again. I was glad Kristina was able to give us an update on Eddie later in the book. I don't think the book would have felt complete to me without knowing what happened to Eddie.

 

I do think Lane's sacrifice was worth it. I don't think Lane could have lived with himself if he hadn't attended the mission to save the POWs. He was determined to do everything in his power to bring his friend and brother, TJ, home. Through the entire novel, I wished there was a way to bring both TJ and Lane home safely, but sadly that was not the case. Upon seeing each other, TJ and Lane knew all was forgiven between them, but I was glad Lane was able to show TJ how much he still cared about him even after everything that happened between them and vice versa. Although Lane died, before his death, he and TJ both put their lives on the line for each other proving their love and loyalty to one another.

 

I am happy the author brought TJ and Jo to get together in the end. I think they made the perfect couple. They were both no stranger to losing their loved ones and at one time or another they had closed off their hearts to love. I think together they will be able to help each other move forward and be open to love.

 

The ceremony was about honoring the memories of the loved ones they had all lost and I think it helped each of them remember those who were no longer with them, but at the same time gave them a way to close this chapter in their lives. They will always remember those they have lost and will keep their memories alive, but they are in a better, happier state in their lives and are willing to move forward. Looking back at that scene, these characters are so lucky to have each other as a support system. If one of them should fall, there is a whole group of people ready to pick them back up again.

 

I loved this book and was sad it ever had to end. Upon turning the last pages, I dreaded leaving the lives of these wonderful characters. I felt I had  been through so much with them, living with them and seeing them grow and learn over the years. I just didn't want to let go. This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read and it has made my list of all-time favorite books. One I hope to reread again soon.

April
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dhaupt
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


ReadingPatti wrote:

Characters; have your opinions of anyone changed? I think that they changed because of what they went through. I am sure that they did.

 

Lane’s ultimate sacrifice. Was it worth it? Why or why not=Very touching that he would choose to go and save TJ. I think he knew that it was worth it.

 

TJ & Jo, are you happy with where the author left them? I am not sure.

 

Talk about the ceremony. Was it enough? Yes, I think it helped them all.

 

Final thoughts- This was a good book and something we all need to think about.

 

Five years ahead-again I’m asking you to turn the clock forward tell me where you think everyone is.- I would hope that the couples got together and had happy lives.


Thanks for your comments Patti

 

what makes you unsure of TJ and Jo?

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dhaupt
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


aprilh wrote:

I think my opinion of Kumiko has changed the most. When we first meet her she is so closed off. She doesn't approve of Maddie and Lane being together and when Maddie shows up at the internment camp she is less than welcoming. She even kept Emma at an arm's length. When Emma is unconscious at the internment camp though, we begin to see a new side to Kumiko. She softens toward Emma, never leaving her side. As time goes on, Kumiko forms a bond with Maddie and begins to open up to her about her past. The more we learn about Kumiko, the more I began to love her and understand the situations that occurred in her life that kept her distanced from others. Her relationship with Maddie continued to blossom even more after the birth of Suzie and it was wonderful to see how welcoming and loving she could be. By the end of the book she ended up being one of my favorite characters.

 

Another character who changed my opinion drastically was Eddie, aka Dopey. When we first meet him, he was a member of the Japanese Army. When we learn of his circumstances, he was really an American and was in Japan when Pearl Harbor occurred and only joined the Japanese Army because he was conscripted, I began to feel for his situation. The more talks he had with TJ and the more he tried to help TJ as much as he could in the prison camp, the more I liked him. When he shot the guard trying to kill TJ and Lane gave him his white armband to prove he was American, I couldn't stop crying. Even on his deathbed Lane was generous and forgiving and I could feel Eddie's relief that his charade was over and he could be an American again. I was glad Kristina was able to give us an update on Eddie later in the book. I don't think the book would have felt complete to me without knowing what happened to Eddie.

 

I do think Lane's sacrifice was worth it. I don't think Lane could have lived with himself if he hadn't attended the mission to save the POWs. He was determined to do everything in his power to bring his friend and brother, TJ, home. Through the entire novel, I wished there was a way to bring both TJ and Lane home safely, but sadly that was not the case. Upon seeing each other, TJ and Lane knew all was forgiven between them, but I was glad Lane was able to show TJ how much he still cared about him even after everything that happened between them and vice versa. Although Lane died, before his death, he and TJ both put their lives on the line for each other proving their love and loyalty to one another.

 

I am happy the author brought TJ and Jo to get together in the end. I think they made the perfect couple. They were both no stranger to losing their loved ones and at one time or another they had closed off their hearts to love. I think together they will be able to help each other move forward and be open to love.

 

The ceremony was about honoring the memories of the loved ones they had all lost and I think it helped each of them remember those who were no longer with them, but at the same time gave them a way to close this chapter in their lives. They will always remember those they have lost and will keep their memories alive, but they are in a better, happier state in their lives and are willing to move forward. Looking back at that scene, these characters are so lucky to have each other as a support system. If one of them should fall, there is a whole group of people ready to pick them back up again.

 

I loved this book and was sad it ever had to end. Upon turning the last pages, I dreaded leaving the lives of these wonderful characters. I felt I had  been through so much with them, living with them and seeing them grow and learn over the years. I just didn't want to let go. This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read and it has made my list of all-time favorite books. One I hope to reread again soon.


April, I'm so happy that you loved the novel/. Me too of course

 

I have to say that I never thought of Eddie as a character to think about other than in the text of the novel and as always happens with my readers you've opened my eyes to the fact that the POWs were not the only victims in the camp.

 

I totally agree with you about Kumiko and TJ and Jo.

 

thank you so much for your thoughts and comments during this read.

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dhaupt
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Ok Kristina, I'm going to ask the question that I know is on everyone's mind. :smileywink:

 

Why did Lane have to die?

 

And did you know his outcome at the beginning of the novel or did he pull you running and screaming through the writing process?

 

 

You all know that this novel made my best of list in 2012 for a good reason it was fabulous like April said, but not only that it opened my eyes to events that I as an American didn't fully understand or know about and it made me look at it from a perspective far from my own.

 

 

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

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

 

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!

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

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.

Laura

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

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

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?

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

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.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Kristina, do you have any questions for us, your readers?  Is there any aspect of the book you would like ask us about?

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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dhaupt
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

[ Edited ]

Laura, you've brought some wonderful things to our discussion table.

 

Yesterday when you replied to my questions you mentioned how you don't usually like military scenes. Kristina did give us a kinder gentler view of those scenes without I think leaving anything necessary out.

I also liked how she wrote about Lane's contributions to the negotiations and how he was valued for that by his commander.

 

on your next post you mentioned the poem at the end-I agree it with your comment about it being a great compliment to the dedication.

 

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.

 


Now we just need to get Kristina to give us her two cents too.

 

Laura, thank you so much for your comments.

I love how you dug deeply into the story for meanings, how you went beyond the words.

I love how all the different ideals, ideas and thought processes we have make our discussions that much more meaningful.

 

 

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Kristina_McMorris
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Oh, no! I hope your trip home goes much more smoothly, Elaine! 

 


elaine_hf wrote:

Okay, I will apologize right now - I'm in Tulsa this week for business, my bag didn't make it with me, my flight was delayed for 3+ hours....sorry, just had to whine a teeny bit. I'll chime in a little later this week, when things have settled!

Elaine




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Kristina_McMorris
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Thank you, Patti! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! 

 


ReadingPatti wrote:

 

Final thoughts- This was a good book and something we all need to think about.

 




Author
Kristina_McMorris
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

April....could I please put you in a jar next to my computer, so you can repeat compliments and insight like this as I type EVERY day? LOL. 

 

Wow. I am so, so flattered. I had just finished a 10+ hour editing stretch yesterday, my brain had turned to mush, and right before bed I logged onto the forum and read your wonderful post. Not only did your thoughtful details about the characters make me teary as I revisited their journeys with you, but it helped boost my literary confidence at a time when I definitely need it to keep trudging along on the next manuscript! 

 

As for your input...

 

I personally think Kumiko experienced the greatest transformation, as well. I just loved her. She reminded me of that tough-as-nails teacher who doesn't believe in giving As, so when you actually get an A, you know you've truly earned her respect. One thing I try to do in each of my stories is to gradually show the reader why the characters act the way they do -- especially the ones who don't initially seem the most likeable. It's always a good reminder to myself how being quick-to-judge can stifle a person's compassion, their ability to feel for another's circumstance. As the author, I knew early on why Kumiko acted the way she did, so I cared for her from the start. You can imagine how excited I was to finally write the chapter that let all of you in on her secret.  :smileyhappy:

 

And yes, I loved Eddie too! How can anyone not, right? Ha. While researching, I happened across some interviews with Nisei who were conscripted to fight for Japan, and I was floored by this. I thought, How have I never heard about this happening before?! I confess, Eddie was formed out of my deep desire to share their tragic accounts with readers -- and in doing so, he became a character I loved writing. Like Kumiko, he wasn't the person he first appeared to be.

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the update on him, April. At book clubs I've visited, I've often heard that readers were surprised Eddie settled back in Japan. I did this for two reasons: mostly because it was historically accurate, in that most of the Nisei in that situation did exactly that; the civilians of Japan had suffered a terrible, devastating loss, particularly after the A-bombs, and would need a lot of help rebuilding; the second reason is because I felt it was consistent behavior for someone who, again, is stuck between both worlds and cultures. Although Eddie was mostly "American," like Lane, his roots are Japanese -- and part of him remains a reflection of his ingrained heritage. 

 

Despite being the author who created them, am I allowed to say how much I also loved reuniting Jo and TJ?! I'm so happy you enjoyed that too. 

 

You're so right about them all having each other at the end, April. In fact, your comment made me realize just now that all of the characters -- even Lane and Maddie in many ways -- started off the book being on their own individual islands, but with growth, sacrifice, and the lowering of their defenses, they became a single, solid unit as a family. 

 

I definitely have some thoughts to share about Lane's fate.... but will post them as an answer to Deb's question. So stay tuned....

 

Again, THANK YOU!! I hope you don't mind if I print your post to revisit whenever needed.  :smileyhappy:

 

 


aprilh wrote:

I think my opinion of Kumiko has changed the most. When we first meet her she is so closed off. She doesn't approve of Maddie and Lane being together and when Maddie shows up at the internment camp she is less than welcoming. She even kept Emma at an arm's length. When Emma is unconscious at the internment camp though, we begin to see a new side to Kumiko. She softens toward Emma, never leaving her side. As time goes on, Kumiko forms a bond with Maddie and begins to open up to her about her past. The more we learn about Kumiko, the more I began to love her and understand the situations that occurred in her life that kept her distanced from others. Her relationship with Maddie continued to blossom even more after the birth of Suzie and it was wonderful to see how welcoming and loving she could be. By the end of the book she ended up being one of my favorite characters.

 

Another character who changed my opinion drastically was Eddie, aka Dopey. When we first meet him, he was a member of the Japanese Army. When we learn of his circumstances, he was really an American and was in Japan when Pearl Harbor occurred and only joined the Japanese Army because he was conscripted, I began to feel for his situation. The more talks he had with TJ and the more he tried to help TJ as much as he could in the prison camp, the more I liked him. When he shot the guard trying to kill TJ and Lane gave him his white armband to prove he was American, I couldn't stop crying. Even on his deathbed Lane was generous and forgiving and I could feel Eddie's relief that his charade was over and he could be an American again. I was glad Kristina was able to give us an update on Eddie later in the book. I don't think the book would have felt complete to me without knowing what happened to Eddie.

 

I do think Lane's sacrifice was worth it. I don't think Lane could have lived with himself if he hadn't attended the mission to save the POWs. He was determined to do everything in his power to bring his friend and brother, TJ, home. Through the entire novel, I wished there was a way to bring both TJ and Lane home safely, but sadly that was not the case. Upon seeing each other, TJ and Lane knew all was forgiven between them, but I was glad Lane was able to show TJ how much he still cared about him even after everything that happened between them and vice versa. Although Lane died, before his death, he and TJ both put their lives on the line for each other proving their love and loyalty to one another.

 

I am happy the author brought TJ and Jo to get together in the end. I think they made the perfect couple. They were both no stranger to losing their loved ones and at one time or another they had closed off their hearts to love. I think together they will be able to help each other move forward and be open to love.

 

The ceremony was about honoring the memories of the loved ones they had all lost and I think it helped each of them remember those who were no longer with them, but at the same time gave them a way to close this chapter in their lives. They will always remember those they have lost and will keep their memories alive, but they are in a better, happier state in their lives and are willing to move forward. Looking back at that scene, these characters are so lucky to have each other as a support system. If one of them should fall, there is a whole group of people ready to pick them back up again.

 

I loved this book and was sad it ever had to end. Upon turning the last pages, I dreaded leaving the lives of these wonderful characters. I felt I had  been through so much with them, living with them and seeing them grow and learn over the years. I just didn't want to let go. This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read and it has made my list of all-time favorite books. One I hope to reread again soon.




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:

 

I'm glad you enjoyed the update on him, April. At book clubs I've visited, I've often heard that readers were surprised Eddie settled back in Japan. I did this for two reasons: mostly because it was historically accurate, in that most of the Nisei in that situation did exactly that; the civilians of Japan had suffered a terrible, devastating loss, particularly after the A-bombs, and would need a lot of help rebuilding; the second reason is because I felt it was consistent behavior for someone who, again, is stuck between both worlds and cultures. Although Eddie was mostly "American," like Lane, his roots are Japanese -- and part of him remains a reflection of his ingrained heritage. 

 


 

I was shocked to read that Eddie stayed in Japan, and even more shocked to read that that is exactly what most Nisei did!  Thank you for explaining this bit of history.

 

 

Laura

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

Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Ah, yes....THE question. Would it shock you if I said I've been asked this more than a few times by readers? I've even had friends who half-jokingly refused to speak to me for a few days after finishing the book. LOL. 

 

To answer your question, when I started writing the detailed synopsis/proposal for my editor in order to obtain the greenlight on the book, I knew right away that one of the characters wasn't coming home. It was a world war, after all, and I felt that for everyone to live happily ever after would not only be unrealistic, but would be doing the heroes of that era a great disservice.

 

As a former event planner, I love to know what's coming next. In this case, I decided I was going to force myself to grow by NOT knowing who wouldn't make it through until I actually wrote those chapters toward the end. Alas, I didn't make it that far. In fact, I knew the outcome before I wrote a single chapter. <sigh> Two-thirds through the synopsis, it became crystal clear to me how the story needed to end. And here's why....

 

As a result of Lane's death, every major character completes their emotiional arc and development as a person. To me, whether Lane came home or not wasn't the most important factor; his sacrifice was, and, even more than that, the fact that Suzie existed because of him. She was the ultimate bridge, and through his service, his daughter -- and whole family actually -- enjoyed the freedoms he helped secure. The Nisei soldiers during WWII sacrificed so much that I wanted to honor them in the greatest way possible, and having Lane ride off into the sunset -- no matter how much I would have loved for him to be reunited with Maddie and Suzie -- just didn't seem right.

 

Another message I felt was vital from this plot point was that, as you know, we will all suffer hardships throughout life. I wanted Maddie to serve as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, you have to find hope. As a mother myself, I wanted Maddie to realize that she was allowed to cry and curl up in a ball when needed, but that her responsibility as a parent meant she had to dig inside herself and somehow find the strength to keep going for their daughter's sake, if for no other reason. 

 

I hope that explains why I made the choice I did -- and that you don't still feel like throwing tomatoes in my direction!  :smileyhappy:

 


dhaupt wrote:

Ok Kristina, I'm going to ask the question that I know is on everyone's mind. :smileywink:

 

Why did Lane have to die?

 

And did you know his outcome at the beginning of the novel or did he pull you running and screaming through the writing process?

 

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dhaupt
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Week Three Discussion of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Kristina_McMorris wrote:

Ah, yes....THE question. Would it shock you if I said I've been asked this more than a few times by readers? I've even had friends who half-jokingly refused to speak to me for a few days after finishing the book. LOL. 

 

To answer your question, when I started writing the detailed synopsis/proposal for my editor in order to obtain the greenlight on the book, I knew right away that one of the characters wasn't coming home. It was a world war, after all, and I felt that for everyone to live happily ever after would not only be unrealistic, but would be doing the heroes of that era a great disservice.

 

As a former event planner, I love to know what's coming next. In this case, I decided I was going to force myself to grow by NOT knowing who wouldn't make it through until I actually wrote those chapters toward the end. Alas, I didn't make it that far. In fact, I knew the outcome before I wrote a single chapter. <sigh> Two-thirds through the synopsis, it became crystal clear to me how the story needed to end. And here's why....

 

As a result of Lane's death, every major character completes their emotiional arc and development as a person. To me, whether Lane came home or not wasn't the most important factor; his sacrifice was, and, even more than that, the fact that Suzie existed because of him. She was the ultimate bridge, and through his service, his daughter -- and whole family actually -- enjoyed the freedoms he helped secure. The Nisei soldiers during WWII sacrificed so much that I wanted to honor them in the greatest way possible, and having Lane ride off into the sunset -- no matter how much I would have loved for him to be reunited with Maddie and Suzie -- just didn't seem right.

 

Another message I felt was vital from this plot point was that, as you know, we will all suffer hardships throughout life. I wanted Maddie to serve as a reminder that even in the darkest moments, you have to find hope. As a mother myself, I wanted Maddie to realize that she was allowed to cry and curl up in a ball when needed, but that her responsibility as a parent meant she had to dig inside herself and somehow find the strength to keep going for their daughter's sake, if for no other reason. 

 

I hope that explains why I made the choice I did -- and that you don't still feel like throwing tomatoes in my direction!  :smileyhappy:

 


dhaupt wrote:

Ok Kristina, I'm going to ask the question that I know is on everyone's mind. :smileywink:

 

Why did Lane have to die?

 

And did you know his outcome at the beginning of the novel or did he pull you running and screaming through the writing process?

 


Only a few times huh :smileyhappy:

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to let us see why. I'm very happy with the entire story and now that you've so beautifully pointed out your "whys" it makes sense.