Book Review: A Bridge of Scarlet Leaves


Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

My Review:

After McMorris’ debut, Letters from Home, I have to admit, the standards were very high for Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.

Her sophomore novel does not disappoint.

Rich with intricate detail and historical stories long since hidden in forgotten memories, this novel brings to light a vast array of emotions. I was engrossed from page one until the reading guide. Both Lane and Maddie are realistic characters that left me wanting to know more and see more of them. As with her first novel, each line rang true of the 1940s and I could nearly hear Sinatra and big bands in the background.

McMorris still engrains her masterful letter-writing skills in this story. One, in particular, left me breathless.

Beyond the surface emotions and plot elements, the deeper issues of race relations during this tumultuous time in world history—from how we detained Japanese-American citizens within our own borders to how the Japanese treated American POWs in the Pacific. Brothers faced brothers. Loyalties were divided. Faith tested. Love endured.

If you enjoyed Unbroken, you’ll love McMorris’ Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. Violins, baseball, B-17s, prison camps and internment camps—this novel truly has everything that defined the Second World War.

Oh, and as a courtesy, I recommend having a tissue handy towards the latter half.

Check out the coverage of her book release party in the Oregonian.

Connect with Kristina (trust me, she’s a hoot):


Behind-the-book video (2.5 min.):

Retailer links:

* Disclosure – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks