What do you do when your only friend may be the enemy? Hazel, who is almost twelve, lives in Oregon. The story takes place after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. All the Japanese families that lived in the Hood River Valley have been re-located to internment camps; all that is except for Sogoji. Sogoji lives with the Lanski family and works around the house taking care of Mrs. Lanski. No one in the area knows of this.
Hazel’s sister, Estelle, is secretly engaged to Jed Lanski, who joined the marines. Hazel wanted Jed to wait for her to grow up. He gives her a silver dollar and asks Hazel to watch out for her family and his family.
Hazel wants to do her part for the war effort. Her father has gone to work at the shipyards in Portland. Her brother, Frank, has joined the Americorps. Hazel keeps watch over the valley with her brother’s binoculars at the top of the local hilltop. The only thing she sees is someone working in the Lanksi’s back yard. She finds a piece of paper with Japanese writing on it. What is she to do with it? Should she turn it in to the FBI?
Hazel meets Sogoji and the two become friends. At some point Hazel must decide that Sogoji is really her friend and not the enemy. Eventually, someone turns Sogoji over to the authorities. Who would do that? What can Hazel do to help him?
I highly recommend this book for middle readers and older readers. The fact that the book is based on historical facts makes it all the more interesting. The reader is taken by surprise by some of the characters. Hazel tells the story which adds innocence to it.
Recommended by Karen Limbaugh, MLIS Retired High School Librarian USA