cover image Diamond in the Desert

Diamond in the Desert

Kathryn Fitzmaurice. Viking, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-01292-3

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 13-year-old Tetsu Kishi, his mother, and his younger sister, Kimi, are imprisoned along with other Japanese Americans in the Gila River Relocation Center in Rivers, Ariz., an internment camp. Tetsu’s father, meanwhile, has been sent away for questioning. Based on actual events, Fitzmaurice’s (The Year the Swallows Came Early) second novel spans three years, divided into seasons. The brief vignettes that compose each section detail the harsh climate and conditions: the latrine has no walls; there is initially no school; the food makes Tetsu ill; and scorpions, rattlesnakes, and dust devils are abundant. When Tetsu befriends some boys who share his love of baseball, they start a team and build a ball field, rekindling Tetsu’s hope. But after Kimi falls ill, Tetsu is once again compelled to fill his father’s shoes. Tetsu provides intimate first-person narration throughout, as Fitzmaurice captures the dismal circumstances and somber mood of the camp, but also the much-needed hope that baseball provided for a few of those who were forced to live there. Ages 10–up. Agent: Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)