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)
486   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

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

Category: Kids Fiction
Perfect for fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix, When You Reach Me, and Savvy, this charming time-travel story from husband-and-wife team...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Bees.jpg
The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Damian Cass died when he was a teenager at the hands of his own father. A hateful soul afterwards, and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Becky Thatcher has her side of the story to tell—and it’s a whopper—in this creative spin on Mark Twain’s beloved...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
An all-new, mesmerizing adventure from the masterful Gordon Korman! Jackson Opus has always been persuasive, but he doesn't know that...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Jax Opus knows he's not like other kids. And it isn't his skill on the basketball court or his test...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Jesse is a wide receiver for the freshman team. Can he play against type and help his team as a...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Kate’s older sister is way too perfect. Her younger sister is way too cute. And her mom wants her to...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this romantic and evocative fantasy, Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
There’s something strange going on at Washington Irving Elementary School. Kids are turning into monsters—literally! First it was Sebastian, then...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Chase Clark just upped his game. As an eighth grader, he scores the chance to play on the varsity football...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family's antique shop, she knows...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can you fall in love with a voice? This witty romance, told entirely through phone calls, chronicles the tale of...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Valentina Cruz no longer exists. One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Clyde has worked for Mr. Wilkshire for a very long time. Life is comfortable in his keeper's chateau—until Mr. Wilkshire...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)