Award-winning author Sandra Dallas was dubbed a quintessential American voice by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. She is the author of The Bride's House, Whiter Than Snow, and Prayers for Sale, among others. Her novels have been translated into a dozen languages and optioned for films. She is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award and the two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award. For 25 years, Dallas worked as a reporter covering the Rocky Mountain region for Business Week, and started writing fiction in 1990. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.
An ugly murder is central to this compelling historical, but the focus is on one appealing family, the Strouds, in the backwater town of Ellis, Colo. Soon after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government rounded up all the Japanese residents of the West Coast and shipped them off to internment camps for the duration of the war. One of the camps is Tallgrass, based on an actual Colorado camp, as Dallas (The Chili Queen) explains in her acknowledgments. The major discomforts and petty indignities these (mostly) American citizens had to endure are viewed through the clear eyes of a young girl who lives on a nearby farm, Rennie Stroud. Rennie's obvious love of family slowly extends itself to the Japanese house and field helpers the Strouds receive permission to hire. The final surprise is the who and why of the murder itself. Dallas's terrific characters, unerring ear for regional dialects and ability to evoke the sights and sounds of the 1940s make this a special treat. Author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Rennie Stroud looks back to 1942, when she was 13, to tell a powerful coming-of-age story. That year, the U.S. government opened a Japanese internment camp outside Ellis, CO, less than a mile from where Rennie and her family farmed sugar beets. Rennie observes the prejudice of some of the townspeople as well as her parents' strong moral code and their entanglement in the emotions of the time. Her father, Loyal, not only shows open support for the Japanese, whom he views as Americans, but offers to hire them to work on the farm. When a young girl is murdered, suspicion naturally turns to the camp, and the town is divided by fear. Dallas's strong, provocative novel is a moving examination of prejudice and fear that addresses issues of community discord, abuse, and rape. Her phrasing and language bring the 1940s to life, and she has created characters that will linger with the reader. As in her previous work, The Persian Pickle Club, Dallas emphasizes the need for women to form strong networks in order to survive emotionally. Highly recommended for book clubs and public libraries.-Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Dallas has made a major contribution to a growing body of literature about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Based on the one camp in Colorado (named Amache, and renamed Tallgrass by the author), the story focuses on the impact it had on the local farmers and townspeople. It is told from the viewpoint of Rennie Stroud, 13, and poignantly portrays the emotional turmoil of both the internees and local residents. Suspicion, fear, anger, hatred, love, tenderness, pride, regret: Rennie adapts and readapts to all of these as her predictable life vanishes behind the reality of war, murder, and injustice. After a young local girl is killed, most of the town looks in one direction for the murderer. Rennie, blessed with wise and just parents, manages to rise above the prevailing rush to judgment. Part mystery, part historical fiction, part coming-of-age story, Tallgrass has all the elements of a tale well told: complex characters, intriguing plot, atmospheric detail, pathos, humor, and memorable turns of phrase. But most of all, the book offers a fresh look at a theme that can never be ignored: the interplay of good and evil within society and within people.-Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Tallgrass will undoubtedly draw apt comparisons with such novels as To Kill a Mockingbird and Snow Falling on Cedars. Sandra Dallas has penned a poignant novel that is not just about a young woman's coming of age, but also about the battle of reasonable people against unreasoned fear and prejudice. A powerful story whose strength is firmly rooted in its respect for language, its depth of character, and its marvelous evocation of place and time, Tallgrass has all the elements of an American classic." --William Kent Krueger, author of the prize-winning Corcoran O'Connor mystery series "Sandra Dallas is a true American Voice. She writes of small towns within a big landscape. And Tallgrass speaks to a time in our history when prejudice and fear fueled passions that divided family and friends. And yet, always, Dallas writes of the human spirit that soars above it all." --Gail Tsukiyama, author of Dreaming Water "Deftly capturing regional voice as well as period detail, Sandra Dallas weaves a vivid portrait of a Colorado farm town unsettled by change and divided by mistrust on the World War II home front. Tallgrass is a compelling and genuinely moving novel that will keep readers guessing until the last page." --Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Circle of Quilters "Tallgrass is a must-read for every American. . . . Sandra Dallas captures the feelings of people in eastern Colorado, a part of the great American plains. Residents thought they were isolated from the great global conflict, but the winds of change deposited one of the internment camps in their midst. What a setting for a novel!" --former congresswoman Pat Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) "A profoundly moving story, told from the viewpoints of victims and witnesses, that hits the reader with insights into the human side of a barely remembered national tragedy of World War II." --Bill Hosokawa, author of Nisei "A rich and unforgettable story . . . With astonishing deftness, Sandra Dallas evokes a part of our history that we might wish to forget, and she does it in such a way that we understand why it is important to remember." --Margaret Coel, author of The Drowning Man "Even the barbed wire can't contain the characters in this novel. They escaped from the story to live in my mind long after I put down the book. With their hopes and dreams and dilemmas, they seem made of flesh and blood." --Iain Lawrence, author of The Wreckers "A moving tale of maturation . . . Fear and prejudice threatens a small Colorado town in World War II, but goodness and mercy abound in a young heroine every bit as appealing as To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout." --Angela Hunt, author of Magdalene and The Elevator "Tallgrass is a coming-of-age novel in that classic tradition, and perhaps the author's most stellar achievement in this book is her creation of young Rennie Stroud, the novel's memorable young narrator, a frank and watchful girl burdened by her own kind heart." --Michael Raleigh, author of In the Castle of the Flynns