Tallgrass

Published By: St. Martin's Griffin

Book Category: Fiction, Historical

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Reviewed by Beth Cummings

I read Sandra Dallas’ The Persian Pickle Club several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So it was with anticipation of another great story that I started this novel. Dallas didn’t disappoint me. This is a terrific book.

Set during World War II, it explores the effect of a Japanese internment camp on a small southeastern Colorado town. Dallas lets us see the reaction of the town through the eyes of Rennie, the thirteen-year-old daughter of a sugar beet farmer. Their farm sits between the town of Ellis and the Tallgrass camp. Rennie’s father is an unfailing fair man and one of the first farmers in the area to hire Japanese workers to help with the beet crop after the usual hired men were drafted or enlisted in the army. As Rennie comments to her father – “the camp brought the war home.”

The family not only has to think about the Japanese camp, but Rennie’s older brother who enlisted and was sent to the German front. Her sister has moved to Denver and Rennie’s mother’s health begins to fail due in part to so much worry.

Sandra Dallas makes her characters come alive – some with unerring kindness and some with purely evil intent. Several people in the town of Ellis were cruel and completely prejudiced about the Japanese that were forced into their area. Others tried to be reasonable or neutral in their attitude and behavior.

The book also has a mystery element – a murder that is committed and not solved until near the end of the book. The way people in the small town react to a possible murderer in their midst is another interesting aspect of the book.

This is the kind of book that I wanted to just keep reading; even after the war ends and the mysteries and conflicts were resolved. It’s part historical fiction, part mystery and part coming-of-age.

Armchair Interviews says: Highly recommended.

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