Cover image for The legend of fire horse woman
The legend of fire horse woman
Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki.
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Publication Information:
New York : Kensington Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
329 pages ; 24 cm
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An epic novel of courage, war, family, prejudice, and love traces the life of Sayo, who was born under the disastrous sign of the Fire Horse. Years after coming to America for an arranged marriage, she is imprisoned with her family in a Japanese internment camp, during World War II.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Houston, author of the much-loved memoir Farewell to Manzanar (1973), about her own time in a World War II internment camp, has written a moving first novel about three generations ofapanese women. Sayo is the family's matriarch; her story takes place both in 1942, at the Manzanar camp, and back in 1902, when she first came to America as a young bride. Full of hope and eagerness to see the world, Sayo leftapan to marry the second son of a powerfulapanese family, only to find the marriage a disappointment. Her daughter, Hana, is now in her own unhappy marriage, but rather than speaking up, she has withdrawn into herself. Terri, Sayo's spirited granddaughter, battles the monotony of camp life by befriending a handsome soldier. Houston vividly re-creates the limitations and loneliness of life in the Manzanar camp while showing each woman finding something she didn't know she needed-- Terri discovers her talent, Hana her voice, and Sayo something she thought she'd lost long ago. An absorbing, lovely novel. --Kristine Huntley Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing on her firsthand experiences in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Houston (author of the memoir Farewell to Manzanar) again explores a shameful episode of American history in this heartfelt debut novel. Women born under the inauspicious sign of the fire horse are too beautiful, powerful and cunning to be humble wives-this makes them "outcasts in Japan, but heroines in America where they must realize this feminine power in order to survive and prevail." Proud Sayo, a fire horse woman, comes to California from Japan in 1902 and 40 years later finds herself imprisoned with her daughter Hana and granddaughter Terri in an internment camp at Manzanar. She urges her family to maintain their dignity in such chaotic times, reminding them that "because we are forced to live like animals does not mean we act like them." Hana, "accustomed to being invisible around the family," finds a kind of freedom in the prison as she musters the courage to assert herself and realizes that "having a different opinion is not a sickness of the mind. It can even be a strength." Terri, 13, is fiercely intelligent, observant and unafraid to say what she thinks. She has inherited Sayo's intuition and ability to communicate with the spirit world, but can her own spirit survive the beating it takes in wartime America? Houston adeptly interweaves Sayo's past and her family's tumultuous present, drawing parallels between Native Americans and displaced Japanese-Americans without hammering the reader with history lessons or blaming individuals for the government's actions. With hope, humor and resilience, Houston celebrates the immigrants who determined "this was America, after all, where preposterous ideas became reality." (Nov. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved