Cover image for Dust of Eden
Dust of Eden
Nagai, Mariko.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago, Illinois : Albert Whitman & Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
121 pages ; 21 cm
"Thirteen-year-old Mina Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are forced to evacuate their Seattle home and are relocated to an internment camp in Idaho, where they live for three years"--
Reading Level:
Middle Grade

960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 6-8 7.5 6 Quiz: 62755.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Audubon Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Clarence Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Crane Branch Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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"We lived under a sky so blue in Idaho right near the towns of Hunt and Eden but we were not welcomed there." In early 1942, thirteen-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy? This memorable and powerful novel in verse, written by award-winning author Mariko Nagai, explores the nature of fear, the value of acceptance, and the beauty of life. As thought-provoking as it is uplifting, Dust of Eden is told with an honesty that is both heart-wrenching and inspirational.

Author Notes

Mariko Nagai was born in Tokyo and raised in Belgium and the United States, where she graduated from NYU's creative writing program. She has received numerous awards and fellowships for her poetry and short stories. She teaches creative writing at Temple University in Japan. This is her first book for children.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In varied arrangements of free verse, Mina Masako Tagawa describes her Japanese American family's deportation from Seattle and years in an Idaho relocation camp from 1941 to 1945. When the eighth-grader departs, her best friend Jamie gives her a necklace of a half heart, like one she wears. The broken heart is a symbol of Mina's broken life: her father jailed for more than a year, her grandfather leaving behind all but one of his beloved roses, and the burdens of her angry brother and careworn mother. At the camp's school, Mina struggles to reconcile what she recites in the Pledge of Allegiance with their incarceration. A caring teacher reads them - Hope' is the thing with feathers (the text doesn't preserve Dickinson's punctuation and capitalization or credit the poet). There are occasional letters between Mina and Jamie, and, after his army enlistment, from Mina's brother, whose European tour includes the liberation of Dachau. Mina's voice is not entirely convincing and her story is generic rather than personal, but the accessible form makes this a useful addition to a middle-school collection.--Isaacs, Kathleen Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Mina is a typical Japanese American girl living in Seattle until December 1941, when her life is changed forever by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. From this point on, everything changes for the worst. People are racist toward her and her family, her father is arrested and carted away without cause, and her family is told to pack up their belongings and report to an "assembly center" to be moved away "for their own safety." This novel in verse follows Mina's trials as she is ripped away from her friends and the life she knew, and forced to live in demeaning conditions throughout the duration of World War II. Nagai does a wonderful job examining what it means to Mina and her family members to be American while not being treated as true citizens. The book explores the obstacles they are faced with as they try to build a life worth living in the internment camps. While Mina and her brother Nick are well-developed, her parents and grandfather would have benefitted from a more in-depth treatment. The poetry is sometimes clunky, and readers who are not familiar with novels in verse might find it cumbersome. The letters Mina writes, both to her best friend in Seattle and to her brother, offer interesting insight, although it is sometimes frustrating that the correspondence is not shown in its entirety. This novel fills gaps in many collections where newer tales of the Japanese internment are lacking, especially for this age range.-Ellen Norton, White Oak Library District, Crest Hill, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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