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TONI MORGAN

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Harvest the Wind

 

Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: Adelaide Books (March 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-7320742-0-0
ISBN-10: 1-7320742-0-8
Product Dimensions:  6 x 1 x 9 inches
Price: $23.20

 

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HARVEST THE WIND

 

In 1943, Keiko Ugawa and her family are taken from their home in Portland, Oregon, to an internment camp in south-central Idaho where they are forced to live with nearly 10,000 other Japanese-Americans in hastily built tarpaper-covered barracks surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. She is frustrated with her family and the others for acting like sheep, and angry with her country for treating her like an enemy. Not far from the camp, Virginia Franconi lives on her family farm. When the government finally allows internees to leave the camp and work in the nearby fields, Keiko and Virginia meet. The two women, whose lives have been so different, become lifelong friends, sharing their innermost secrets, their loves, in some cases hidden even from themselves, their prejudices.

 

Virginia Franconi left home at eighteen, ‘like the hounds of hell were nipping at my heels.’ Ten years later, she returns to the family farm in Idaho.  Her sour, belligerent father, once an iron-fisted ruler, is weak and frail, no longer a threat. Marc, Virginia’s brother, runs the farm. Virginia, unmarried, is pregnant, a secret she doesn’t initially share with Marc or her father.

When President Roosevelt orders all people of Japanese descent removed from the West Coast, Keiko Ugawa and her family find themselves in a crowded, tar-papered barrack, surrounded by barbed-wire and guard towers, where temperatures reach 130F in summer and minus 30F in winter. Dust and wind are constants. Her mother dies and Keiko’s anger at authorities intensifies.

Marc’s worries about who will help him work the farm are solved when the government allows internees from nearby Camp Minidoka to work on surrounding farms.  A saddened and still angry Keiko comes to the Franconi farm, along with several young men.  While Keiko works in the house with Virginia, now approaching her due date, the young men join Marc in the fields.  Keiko helps deliver Virginia’s baby. The two women gradually become friends. 

The following summer Keiko returns to the Franconi’s farm with Suki, a high-school friend from the camp. Keiko’s brother enlists. To Virginia’s dismay, Marc risks everything by planting the entire farm in sugar beets. Their brother, Paul, comes home from the South Pacific after a Japanese plane crashes into his ship.  He’s blind, withdrawn and angry, especially with his father.  Keiko is certain something happened between the two before Paul ever left home. Virginia’s former lover shows up, unsettling everyone. 

Paul’s attitude worsens. Suki seems the only person who can reach him.  In the spring, the war in Europe ends.  In August, Japan surrenders.  Paul announces he and Suki are going to marry. Suki and Keiko overhear Paul and his father arguing. Paul says he knows what his father did and it makes him sick to think about. Paul and Suki marry. Keiko and her father return to Portland, ending Part One.   

Part Two begins in 2008.  Virginia, Keiko, Suki and Paul are in their twilight years.  Marc has died along with Virginia’s husband, John Sato.  Keiko and her husband, Mako, a man she met while both were interned, Suki and Paul, now a celebrated writer, return to Idaho to celebrate Virginia’s 90th birthday.  Virginia’s granddaughter, Grace, is a drug addict, Grace’s daughter, Lily, is a painter. Keiko’s granddaughter, Nori, is an attorney and gay, something she hasn’t revealed to her grandparents. Paul’s granddaughter, Helena, like Paul, is a writer. Paul finally shares the mystery of his anger, the murder of an Asian family he witnessed his father participate in. Suki faces her internment camp demons. The story draws to a climax at Virginia’s birthday party.   

 

Camp Minidoka

 

I came to write HARVEST THE WIND after reading an article in the local paper about a group of survivors of Camp Minidoka returning to Idaho on an annual pilgrimage to the place where they had once been wrongfully interned. It was a story I vaguely knew about, but that article hit home. These folks were taken from the mild climates of the West Coast and were met in Idaho by dust storms, barbed wire, and temperatures that ranged from minus thirty to over one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit. At its peak, Camp Minidoka held nearly 10,000 men, women and children.

 

trilogy

 

Although a west-coaster by birth, marriage, and preference, I’ve lived in many places, including nearly four years in Japan. That rich experience led me to write Echoes from a Falling Bridge, Harvest the Wind, and Lotus Blossom Unfurling. 

 

"My father was a mean and bitter man.
I think my mother may have died
just to get away from him."

 

"Something woke me. The scratching sound of windblown tumbleweed rubbing against the outside wall
of the barracks?  Sparks, a lump
of coal shifting and settling in the stove? I lifted my head, alert but puzzled. Then it hit me. Silence…
my mother’s heavy breathing…
gone."

 

 

 

 

 

 

books

CONTENTS: Two-Hearted Crossing
Home Patrimony
About Echoes from a Falling Bridge
Books Harvest the Wind
Media Lotus Blossom Unfurling
Contact Queenie's Place
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