Books Kids Fiction A Diamond in the Desert

A Diamond in the Desert

http://www.yabookscentral.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x275s/82/2b/5a/_unknown-1362948249.jpeg
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
473   0
Age Range
9+
Release Date
February 16, 2012
ISBN
978-0670012923
Buy This Book
      
For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game.

On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.

Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game. This is an impeccably researched, lyrical story about baseball, honor, and a turbulent period in U.S. history.

Editor reviews

More often than not I hear kids and grownups of all ages say they don’t like to read historical fiction. It feels too much like learning, they say with disgust, and when they read, they read for enjoyment, not to learn. Well I think I’ve found the answer to these historical fiction naysayers in Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s “A Diamond in the Desert.”

“A Diamond in the Desert” follows Japanese-American Tetsu, a twelve-year-old boy who was forced with his family to live in the Gila River internment camp during World War II. From that one sentence synopsis, it’s clear that “Diamond” is a work of historical fiction, but as you read about Tetsu’s experiences in this desolate desert camp, the story feels more dystopian. The barracks that Tetsu and other Japanese-Americans have to live in, the unending presence of dust seeping into each and every crevice possible, not just in buildings but on human bodies, and the weakened morale of all the camp’s inhabitants make it seem as if some massive apocalyptic event has occurred and the residents of Gila River are the only survivors trying to find a way to hold on to hope. Even though it’s made clear all along that this is mid-twentieth century America, it’s mind blowing at the end of the book to actually think that the U.S. government forced people to live in these conditions for years. It’s at that moment when you realize you’ve read historical fiction, and have actually learned a lesson about American history. This dystopian guise for historical fiction is perfect for Middle Grade readers, especially boys, who drag their feet when they think they’re being forced to learn.

Helping that connection with boys even further is the emphasis on baseball, Tetsu’s passion and the only thing that keeps him going when he and some neighbors decide to build a baseball diamond just outside of camp. Fitzmaurice’s description of the exhilaration Tetsu feels while playing baseball makes readers connect with the sport, regardless of whether or not you’re like me and have zero hand-eye coordination or can’t throw a ball worth a darn! I felt like I was standing on this makeshift baseball diamond myself, feeling the heat of the desert sun beat down on my back as I stood at home plate ready to bat. Baseball becomes not just the camp residents’ only hope for the day when they would all finally be released, but the readers’ as well, becoming a part of every single game Tetsu and his teammates play as camp life drags on.

I’m outrageously impressed with how different all of Fitzmaurice’s books are, yet how they each leave me feeling inspired and ready to take on life. “A Diamond in the Desert” is no exception, and is a diamond in its own right.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Jason Gallaher, Editor Reviewed by Jason Gallaher, Editor March 10, 2013
Last updated: March 10, 2013
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (106)

This is How You Write Historical Fiction

More often than not I hear kids and grownups of all ages say they don’t like to read historical fiction. It feels too much like learning, they say with disgust, and when they read, they read for enjoyment, not to learn. Well I think I’ve found the answer to these historical fiction naysayers in Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s “A Diamond in the Desert.”

“A Diamond in the Desert” follows Japanese-American Tetsu, a twelve-year-old boy who was forced with his family to live in the Gila River internment camp during World War II. From that one sentence synopsis, it’s clear that “Diamond” is a work of historical fiction, but as you read about Tetsu’s experiences in this desolate desert camp, the story feels more dystopian. The barracks that Tetsu and other Japanese-Americans have to live in, the unending presence of dust seeping into each and every crevice possible, not just in buildings but on human bodies, and the weakened morale of all the camp’s inhabitants make it seem as if some massive apocalyptic event has occurred and the residents of Gila River are the only survivors trying to find a way to hold on to hope. Even though it’s made clear all along that this is mid-twentieth century America, it’s mind blowing at the end of the book to actually think that the U.S. government forced people to live in these conditions for years. It’s at that moment when you realize you’ve read historical fiction, and have actually learned a lesson about American history. This dystopian guise for historical fiction is perfect for Middle Grade readers, especially boys, who drag their feet when they think they’re being forced to learn.

Helping that connection with boys even further is the emphasis on baseball, Tetsu’s passion and the only thing that keeps him going when he and some neighbors decide to build a baseball diamond just outside of camp. Fitzmaurice’s description of the exhilaration Tetsu feels while playing baseball makes readers connect with the sport, regardless of whether or not you’re like me and have zero hand-eye coordination or can’t throw a ball worth a darn! I felt like I was standing on this makeshift baseball diamond myself, feeling the heat of the desert sun beat down on my back as I stood at home plate ready to bat. Baseball becomes not just the camp residents’ only hope for the day when they would all finally be released, but the readers’ as well, becoming a part of every single game Tetsu and his teammates play as camp life drags on.

I’m outrageously impressed with how different all of Fitzmaurice’s books are, yet how they each leave me feeling inspired and ready to take on life. “A Diamond in the Desert” is no exception, and is a diamond in its own right.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.

Already have an account? or Create an account
 
Powered by JReviews

LATEST YABC BLOG POSTS - BLOG TOURS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND GIVEAWAYS

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Lola And The Boy Next Door

      Hey guys, today we're hanging out with Lola and Cricket!   Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is ...

  • YA Authors as YAs: The Megan Whitmer Edition + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Welcome to the latest YA Authors as YAs interview! Our goal? To prove that your favorite authors — no matter how AWESOME and COOL you think they are — were once awkward, weird, and they geeked out about fandoms and guilty-pleasure music JUST LIKE YOU when they were teens. ...

  • Check out the trailer for PADDINGTON!

      PADDINGTON   We're so happy to bring you the trailer for PADDINGTON, based on the beloved children's book by Michael Bond, arriving this Christmas!   You know you need a good dose of *bathroom* humor this morning, right? Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for PA ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Charmed by Michelle Krys + Giveaway (International)

      Welcome to this week's cover reveal! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for CHARMED by Michelle Krys, releasing May 26, 2015 from Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Michelle:   ...

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Anna And The French Kiss

    Bonjour ami! Je suis heureux que vous soyez ici, j'aime votre visage!   Okay, so, my French is a little rusty, but fingers crossed that I just said,     Hello friends! I'm glad you're here, I like your face!   Today, w ...

  • #ReadISLA

      Hello YABC! I had a BLAST hanging out with Isla and Josh this weekend! See? They said to say, Bonjour! My initial thoughts? ISLA is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection! Have you checked out the ISLA chapter sample? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! ...

  • It's live! Cover Reveal: Soulprint by Megan Miranda (US only)

      Happy Almost 4th of July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to reveal the cover for SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda releasing February 3, 2015 from Bloomsbury. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Megan:   Hi there, YABC readers! I’m so excite ...

  • Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare Prize Pack Giveaway (International)

      Today we have a guest post giveaway by M.G. Buehrlen, author of THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE. Go forth and enter and win! Hey YABCers! Today feels like a pretty fine day to have a giveaway. And who better to give awesome things away to than the awesome reviewers who help spread ...

  • Excerpt Reveal: Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan

      Hey YABCers! Today we bring you a special treat – a chapter excerpt from THE FOG OF FORGETTING by G.A. Morgan! So grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, sit back, and enjoy a few pages of 100% totally free fantasy reading.  Before we get to the excerpt, here's a bit ...

  • #ReadISLA Campaign

    Hello Fellow YABCers! I am BEYOND excited that YABC was asked to participate in the #ReadISLA campaign as we eagerly await, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the third companion novel in Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS series!   From the glittering streets of Manh ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Color Song by Victoria Strauss + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Happy July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, releasing September 16, 2014 from Skyscape. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Victoria:   Hello, YABC! I’m thrilled to be sharin ...

  • Giveaway: One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (US & Canada Only)

    One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (editors) Release Date: 8/26/14   About the Book How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers. Kev’s t ...

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

Category: Young Adult Indie
In the hierarchy of magical beings witches reign supreme. Unlike trolls who need rocks to cast their spells or mermaids...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Some kids are just born in a tangle. At sixteen years old, Sawyer Jackson hasn’t seen much beyond...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Shardheld, the third and final book in the great Shardheld Saga, epic fantasy for both Y.A. and Adults. Muus’...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Wish You Weren't
Category: Kids Indie
Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. So when he makes an...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the bestselling author of Catching Jordan comes a brand new contemporary YA you won't forget. The finish line is...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Will Moore has been Missy Jamison’s best friend for years, and until recently, she hadn’t considered going "there" with him...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen year old Emma Cartwright leaves her family's rice plantation after a slave is beaten to death. Determined to help...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking story about family, loss, and the joys and disappointments of first...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Selena Fallon is a dreamer. Not a daydreamer, but an I-see-the-future kind of dreamer. Normally, this is not a...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Ruff Ruffman is having a bad day. First, his fancy pants get stolen, then he gets a message from his...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Monkey and Elephant are very good friends, very good friends with nothing on the agenda. So they decide to go...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Transformation, empowerment, love and music come together in the book, Beautiful One. Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (2)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Amberlin.DDestiny.jpg
Category: Young Adult Indie
"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst." C. S. Lewis Amberlin Gentry doesn’t feel all...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)