Lam has written a novel taking place today, and also in the past when the United States committed a crime against its own citizens during World War II. He uses the characters of Daniel Tokunaga and his father Ray to bring the events to life.
Daniel is a world renowned heart surgeon who has been estranged from his father for many years. What the problem was that fomented the distance between them is really the crux of the matter.
Daniel and Ray are Japanese Americans and Ray and his family were among the thousands that were rounded up due to an edict from president Franklin Roosevelt and sent to internment camps for the duration of the war. Most of these people were completely Americanized and could not understand the harsh treatment at the hands of the government even with their former country – Japan – at war with the U.S. To prove to the U.S. government that they were not traitors, many of the young men enlisted in the army and eventually melded into the 442nd regimental combat team used only in Europe against the German army. As an aside, and an important one, Lam indicates that the 442nd became the most decorated unit in the history of U.S. warfare in history.
Ray enlisted and served at the front. Returning home he became withdrawn and almost a tyrant to his sons, Daniel and his brother.
The book tells the story of Ray passing away and Daniel unearthing the real story about his father and the facts of the incident that made the man a hero winning the second highest military honor that can be bestowed on anyone. It is a poignant story beautifully touching on real human emotions and the relationship between father and son. The ending is certainly real enough in scope to leave a lasting impression on the readers. It obviously brings to life the crime against Japanese Americans when both German and Italian Americans were not thought of as anything but citizens of their adopted country.
Note from the BookBitch: It is a little known fact that there were Italian-American internment camps and that many Italian-Americans were forced to register as “enemy aliens” with the government. Lisa Scottoline’s brilliant legal thriller, Killer Smile, was inspired by her grandparents’ registration cards and her subsequent research on the topic.
5/19 Paul Lane
REPENTANCE by Andrew Lam. Tiny Fox Press LLC (May 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1946501127. 308p.