Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Literally the Best Reviews: Eagle & Crane

Eagle & Crane -- Suzanne Rindell
GP Putnams Sons
448 Pages

A couple of months ago, Howie Balaban wrote a book review (HERE) on this book. At the time of publication, I had this book on my shelf, borrowed from the library. It looked interesting, but I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. After reading Howie’s review, I knew I had to move this book to the top of the list. Did it live up to the hype that Howie gave it?

Eagle & Crane is a piece of historical fiction that takes place on the West Coast during the early years of World War II. Those were the days of the US Government imprisoning Japanese-American citizens in internment camps in fear of a second sneak attack like Pearl Harbor. Tensions were high, not only because of the war, but because of old family disagreements and the love of a woman.

When a flying circus comes to town, childhood friends and adult adversaries, Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada end up daredevils in the circus while chasing the affections of Ava Brooks. Ava is the stepdaughter of Earl Shaw the owner of the circus, and is trying to escape his overbearing presence. The attention from the two young men may be her out. And they can show her a world she never knew existed.

The two young men must also overcome their mutual mistrust of each other, fomented by years of family animosity and a perceived slight over the acquisition of family land. In their line of work as daredevils to implicitly trust one another, while fighting for the love of a woman.

When war breaks out after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, the government starts sending Japanese-American citizens to camps in order to ensure they are not collaborating with the enemy. The Yamada family is sent away, but before they go, they leave the disputed property in the hands Louis Thorn, in the hands of the very family who felt they had been cheated out of the land.

Harry and his father escape from the internment camp, forcing the government to seek them out before they aided and abetted the Japanese military. The agent from the government sent to questions the locals has a deep secret of his own. The past and present meld together in a narrative that spans generations of different families into a single moment.

Eagle & Crane is a historical novel that explores a part of American history that has been widely overlooked. Suzanne Rindell takes a dark moment from our past, opens it for the world to see, and shows that love and hope can and will conquer that darkness. Rindell juxtaposes the darkness with the light of hope and sets the story against those opposing forces.

I loved the characters in this book. Their struggles and wants and needs burst forth from the page. Every time any combination of the trio of main characters makes an appearance on the page, the tensions and emotions are palpable. Enough of what’s happening in the outside world sneaks in to drive the characters in directions they were not prepared to go. Each time, these characters act like we all would, adding to their veracity.

With Eagle & Crane Suzanne Rindell has written an historical fiction novel that brings the past to life. It is an intriguing story that I enjoyed reading. In fact, I went to the library to see if they had any other books by her. I came home with The Other Typist. Stay tuned. Maybe that one will get a review, too.

Craig Bacon loves history. There is so much out there waiting to be discovered.