Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Eagle & Crane

Title:  Eagle & Crane
Author:  Suzanne Rindell
Publication Information:  G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2018. 448 pages.
ISBN:  0399184295 / 978-0399184291

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "They bump along the country road, rolling through golden hills that are punctuated with granite boulders and dotted iwth clusters of oak trees that appear blackish green from afar."

Favorite Quote:  "In a war filled with so many tragedies, it is difficult to think the dead would begrudge anything that might help to alleviate the suffering of the living."

Newcastle, California. 1943. World War II. Japanese internment in the United States. A plane crash. Two dead. A local and an FBI investigation. Those who know but aren't saying. An agent with an agenda of his own. This is the initial setup of Eagle and Crane.

Then, the story starts winding in circles casting a wider and wider net around the characters to depict their stories and what leads them to this moment. Louis Thorn is of California, born and bred in this town. Haruto, aka Harry, Yamada and his family are immigrants from Japan. The boys grow up around each other, not friends but not not-friends either. Passed on to them is the fued between their families. They may have more in common than they think, but they are taught to focus on their differences.

A dare brings them together at a daredevil air show owned and operated by Earl Shaw. It brings them to a semblance of a friendship, but the rivalry also continues. In other words, it's complicated. This dare also brings them both to Ava Brooks, Earl's stepdaughter, and, I presume, the one pictured on the cover of the book. Ava's mother has learned to survive, and Earl is a part of that survival.

The histories of the Thorns, the Yamadas, and the Brooks wind chapter by chapter to this plane crash in which supposedly Harry and his father die. Do they? Did the plane crash or was there something else? The local sheriff thinks so, but an FBI agent does not. Turns out the FBI agent has reasons and a story of his own.

In other words, this book has a lot of stories going on. However, it does not have the story I expect to read given the time and the place. In the 1940s in California with a book in which a main character is Japanese, I expect to read much more about Japanese internment, an act that one would never have dreamt possible in a land of immigrants and the American dream. In fact, this is my primary reason for choosing to read this book.

That story, however, is only one of many in this book and as a result, for me, gets a little lost. This book is about a feud over land. It is about a complicated friendship. It is about a woman and two men who love her. It is about the adventures of barnstorming and daredevil flying. It is about an abusive relationship. It is about a man looking for his past. It is about a mystery and the investigation surrounding it.

For me, this book is about too many stories; it dilutes the impact of any individual one. Some, like the personal story of the FBI agent, would not be missed if eliminated. The cover seems to imply that this is Ava's story; however, it seems more Louis and Harry's story. In fact, by the end, this book seems more a collection of bits and pieces rather than a cohesive whole.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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