Wendy reviews Gardens of Hope: A Novel by Michael Holloway Perronne. Published December 22, 2016 by Chance Press, LLC, 236 pages.
On the surface, Jack appears to have all a man in World War II era 1941 could want with his solid middle-class background, upcoming college graduation, and the perfect, devoted fiancee. But one night when he accidentally stumbles upon a shadow life of men who desire other men in a Downtown Los Angeles park, he begins to realize exactly what has always left him with a feeling of emptiness.
Despite the constant danger of being arrested by vice cops, Jack continues to visit the park every chance he has to feel a connection, no matter how fleeting, with another man. One night he meets a handsome and charismatic Japanese-American, Hiro, who appears to want more than a quick encounter, and Jack surprises himself by starting to truly fall in love for the first time.
However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066 and orders the mandatory relocation of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who have never been charged with a crime, to far flung internment camps sites. Jack and Hiro suddenly find themselves torn apart before their secret, fledgling romance can blossom.
Desperate to find and reconnect with Hiro, Jack accepts a high school teaching position at an internment camp in the California desert, Manzanar. There, surrounded by armed guard towers and a prison-like environment, Jack begins to fully realize the injustices being faced by Japanese-Americans during one of the most controversial times of United States history and shifts his world view- forever.”
A complimentary copy of this book was provided to us by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book:
This week our theme is Historical. I asked the owner of the blog to pick a book that met the theme’s criteria and this book was the one he chose for me. I’m very glad he did.
Okay, the first thing I’m going to say is go grab your tissues before you start this book…you will need them. Go ahead, I will wait. This is not light reading. It’s thought provoking and beautiful and it’s about finding love during a time when the world was a very frightening place to be and people acted and reacted out of fear. I believe I was maybe two pages in before I grabbed my first tissue to wipe away the tears so I could continue. The next thing that I’m going to say is that sometimes you read a book that you know is so special that you feel like it will stay with you for a very long time, I think this story will always be with me. I’m not sure that I have the words to do this book justice in my review, but I will try.
The characters, oh man, the characters. I love a book that is written with characters that are just good people. People that have their own struggles of course (wouldn’t be a very interesting book without some stuff happening), but that are just genuinely good at heart people. That is this book! I fell so in love with both Jack and Hiro. They are the kind of people that you want as your family, best friends and neighbors. Jack was so well written that I felt what he was feeling. Everything from his newly discovered sexuality to trying to make the right decisions without hurting others even at his own expense to lastly his quest for answers even if they could be painful. Hiro (sounds like Hero just spelled differently), was an incredibly strong character. I have friends today who are Asian and they struggle with cultural issues that I’m sure weren’t any easier back in the 1940’s. He was still able to be true to himself and his family during such a difficult time. He faced so many obstacles with grace and dignity. Sometimes when you read a book, you are inspired to emulate the people you are reading about and I would absolutely aspire to be like these two men in my heart.
There isn’t a traditional HEA with this story, what you get is a story about lives well lived, with love and lessons that we all learn if we have enough time. I can’t recommend this book enough. I would STRONGLY encourage you to get this book asap! Read it when you have time to reflect and when you aren’t going anywhere that red puffy eyes from ugly crying will matter. This book has so many feels. I’m going to be buying everything this author has written as soon as I’m done writing this review. If I could give this author a zillion Pots of Gold for this book, I would.
Where to buy:
Where to add:
10/10 Pots of Gold. Equivalent to 5/5 stars.
Michael Holloway Perronne is the author of seven novels, including the recent release “Gardens of Hope.” His debut novel, “A Time Before Me” won the Bronze Award, Foreword Magazine’s 2006 Book of the Year Award in the Gay/Lesbian fiction category.
For more on Michael visit his website: