Puffin (April 12, 2004)
Review by Josh Poppie (Jan. 2014)
I am reviewing A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck. I consider it a historical fiction or humorous book with several themes.
This book is a compilation of several stories about two kids, Joey and Mary Alice Dowdel, going to see their grandma for a week during every summer for seven years. Each visit is different in its own special way. Some of the stories include: the catching-in-the-act and revenge on four prankster kids; an illegal fishing trip; and, a wrestling match between two of the oldest men alive. Joey, the narrator, says Grandma Dowdel becomes a different woman every year.
The book takes place in Illinois’ Piatt County. I like the writing style especially because it involves a lot of funny similes and interesting vocabulary. Although it takes place in the Midwest, it has a very Southern feel to it.
I’d recommend A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, to anyone who likes humor or old-time stories from the Great Depression era.
By K.P. Kollenborn (Lulu.com, 2011)
Written in five parts the book is an epic tale of how the Japanese living in America on Bainbridge Island, Washington suffered undue humility and harassment when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The main story centers around two boys Jim and Russell, their families and how the Japanese community is affected by the war.
The novel begins with Jim trying to deal with the suicide of his older brother and years after still blames his father, Jim is more the quite type while Russell is more outgoing. As they say opposites attract each other and no matter what Jim and Russell always seem to connect in one way or another. With the advent of the war, the families start to suffer persecution. Their stores are vandalized, they have to turn over anything that could harm or incriminate them in any way, weapons, knives and down to even including 2 way radios. Now they have arrested all the men and the rest of their families are being transported off the island leaving their homes, bank accounts and belongings behind for looters to take advantage of.
As they are all transferred to a relocation camp, that could be in all reality a lesser form of a concentration camp, this is where they will being till the war ends. Here is where Jim and Russell and their families are now living along with about 10,000 other Japanese families. With a watchtower at either end there is no chance for escape as they have to deal with the sand, the heat, meager meals, no privacy and a guard that would just as soon shoot them all as to have to look at them. As with any form of camp, problems arise, families go against families, gangs form, friendships either part or strengthen and romance can blossom. So goes the lives of Jim and Russell as they both manage to keep their friendship throughout.
A year after the advent of Pearl Harbor, the camp is showing signs of political unrest. There are riots, people accusing each other of wrong doings. Americans against each other. Those for and those against. As the military sets into to recruit members for a segregated combat unit, Jim aand Russell both enlist, Russell to prove his loyalty to America. As he fights against his own country , Jim being disloyal is sent to a different camp .Hopefully this will help him to grown up and become a loyal American.With the end of the war and families returning back to Bainbridge Island, Jim and Russell vow to remain friends. While Russell goes off to college, Jim has finally learned to forgive his father for his brothers suicide and decides to remain in Bainbridge. Now is the time to start their lives over and try to regain back the respect from the community that they had lost years earlier.
This is a long book but a very interesting novel. For those that lived back in that time and read this book it will bring back memories, memories of hating and being hated. For the younger generation they can read but really not understand what it was like. I have to say the author did a wonderful job on researching the book before writing it.I just touch on a bit of the subject contained in this book. There is much more that one needs to read to reach the full impact of the novel. Recommended for all who like to read factual books based on actual events.