Akira blinked, amazed to see his Mama cry for the first time ever.
It was a poignant beginning to Cherry Blossoms in the Storm, a novel by Robert and Gail Kaku.
Mama had a good reason to cry. She was about to send her two oldest boys to live with their uncle in Japan. The recent widow could not afford to care for her own children.
12 years later, the eldest brother Akira would still be in Japan when it bombed Pearl Harbor. Before long he is drafted into the Imperial Army. A Japanese woman who Akira falls in love with is snatched away from him.
All this as his younger brothers in the United States, Tad and Danny are sent to an incarceration camp. The two split over the loyalty questionnaire with Tad joining the 442nd and Danny joining the Fair Play Committee.
“It shocked us to learn about the suffering our parents’ generation went through,” said Gail Kaku about the inspiration for the book. “Both of our
fathers never talked about any of this. One time, my father mumbled, ‘barbed wire … Gila monsters … ugly, pink-beaded creatures.’ He was
incarcerated at the Gila River camp.”
She describes the book as being based on true events with fictionalized characters. However, some of the historical figures mentioned in the book are real such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Emperor Hirohito and Lt. General John DeWitt.
“We also wanted to honor the Nisei for fighting for our freedom and rights. Also we hope this book will educate younger generations about this era and
we wanted to tell the Nisei legacy in an entertaining story.”
The release of the book coincides with another historical fiction account of the Japanese American experience, the debut of Allegiance on Broadway. Both are focused on a Japanese American family torn apart by the war, the loyalty oath and the incarceration camps.
There’s also the Asian American classic, No No Boy by John Okada which came out in 1956, but Kaiku says the biggest influence on Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is the 2001 book by Dr. Eric Muller Free to die for their Country.
“Sadly a lot of people are still bitter from the incarceration experience,” said Gail.
“For years, no one talked about this. But I’m glad that this issue has
surfaced and many of them are openly talking about it, which I believe is
part of the healing process.
“There was a lot of animosity between the 442nd Regiment Team and draft resisters / No-no boys.
The former late Senator Daniel Inouye tried to bridge this gap and bring about reconciliation, and we
tried to do something similar in our book.”
This is the third book Gail has co-authored with her husband Robert who developed the original story line. Gail polished the prose,
fixed the plot holes and developed the romance.
Gail spent the day making major edits, and her husband rejected most of them. They finally came to an agreement after the seventh pass.
“We don’t recommend husband and wife teams to work on writing projects
together, especially if they want to keep their marriage intact. However,
what helped us the most is our faith in God, and a verse, Ecclesiastes 4:12,
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Cherry Blossoms in the Storm is published by Majesty Books and can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or BN.com and other places where
books are sold. For eBooks formats: Kindle, Nook, Apple iBook, Google
Play/Droid and PDF.
ISBN: 978-0-9799903-4-2 – Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9799903-5-9 – eBook
You can check out the first three chapters for free.