cover image Candle in the Wind

Candle in the Wind

Maureen Wartski. Fawcett Books, $5.5 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-449-70442-4

Wartski's (The Face in My Mirror) taut novel centers on a Japanese American family grappling with an enormous loss--and extreme prejudice directed at them. When the car he is riding in breaks down in a Boston suburb, Harvard-bound Harris Mizuno goes to a nearby house for help and is fatally shot by the owner, who felt ""threatened"" by the stranger. Exacerbating the family's pain and rage, a pack of white-supremacist hecklers appears at Harris's funeral. Focusing closely on Terri, Harris's 15-year-old sister, Wartski chronicles the ugly, often violent incidents the girl and her family endure at the hands of the Society of Aryan Warriors. In a well-wrought subplot, the author brings Mr. Mizuno's mother from Japan for a visit, and through her provides an intriguing glimpse into Japanese culture. At the book's conclusion, this insightful, courageous woman prevents a clash between the members of SAW and their counterparts on the antithetical Asian Power Through Unity group when she delivers a moving speech on the destructiveness of hate. Believable characters and affecting scenes distinguish this sobering look at racism and its devastating toll. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)