Thursday, May 10, 2012
Sophie and the Rising Sun
Author: Augusta Trobaugh
Publication Information: Bell Bridge Books. 2001. 150 pages.
Book Source: I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a paperback review copy.
Favorite Quote: "I never thought anyone - especially me - should live a whole lifetime doing things they way other folks thought they should."
Sophie and the Rising Sun is a story of World War II - specifically of World War II right as the attack on Pearl Harbor happens. It is a story of that time but set in a small Georgia town. As such, it is period piece about the American South.
Sophie is the town spinster with an overpowering mother and a lost love in her background. Ms. Anne is the one in town not afraid to do things a little differently. Ms. Ruth is the town busybody. And Mr. Oto is the anomaly in town - an American of Japanese heritage who lands in the town and stays. The book is about the "friendship" between Sophie and Mr. Oto and the ramifications of the Pearl Harbor attacks on this small town and these individuals. The book is about the choices the characters make in response to the war and the consequences.
Sophie and the Rising Sun is a delightful story to read. It is definitely more a story of small town America than war. The news of Pearl Harbor is the trigger for what follows. However, the focus clearly remains on the individual characters and this small town. It is interesting to feel the town and characters so far removed from the war yet at the same time so deeply embedded in it because of the prejudice and fear it created.
The prejudices in our lives come across so clearly in this book. Mr. Oto is as American as Ms. Ruth, yet is judged by the way he looks and speaks and by his heritage. Certain people cannot look past the surface differences to see that he is just like them. We would like to think this does not happen here in America, but unfortunately it did and it still does. So, I found myself laughing because the "period piece" nature of this book made the prejudices seem ludicrous. However, I also found myself thinking that this could very well occur now but hoping that it will not.