Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I resisted reading Tallgrass because I thought it might be a little like a Book of the Month book and also because I am tired of books centered around WWII. I was wrong on both counts. Tallgrass is the story of a small town in Eastern Colorado on the plains that has been given (forced upon) a Japanese internment camp. The story is from the perspective of a spunky 12 year old whose family raises sugar beets.
This family drama is played out at quilting bee's, on dusty roads, in Denver when streetcars ruled the roads, in classrooms, and dirty shops. It captures the time of desperation during the war - with rations, dealing with the Japanese, and family problems that don't seem to change much over the years. People are people whether they go to the Methodist church, farm fields, are "foreigners", are fighting wars, or are just figuring out how to make due.
Rennie, the 12 year old, sees it all and talks plainly to her obviously liberal leaning father and family. Through her eyes we are taken down dark paths of rape, drug addiction, and murder. And although the subjects are gritty what doesn't escape the reader is the fact that the women of the story band together during all kinds of tragedy. And slowly the whole town begins to soften - at least until they pick up new things to hate along the way.
Well crafted this book is a fast read and perfect for the book club set. It allows for conversation to flow about race, family, tragedy, and the idea that women have the capacity to care far more than their pocketbooks seem to allow. A period piece that is one WWII story that was refreshingly new.
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