Kathryn Fitzmaurice's first book The Year the Swallows Came Early was one of my favorites a few years ago. I was excited to see the synopsis for A Diamond in the Desert a few weeks ago, and was even more excited to see that Fitzmaurice was the author.
This novel is set during World War II when Tetsu and his family are relocated to an internment camp at the Gila River. Although this book is about baseball, there is also a lot more this story encompasses. How Tetsu and his family deal with their relocation is impressive - with quiet dignity they face a new life, waiting for Tetsu's father to be released to join them.
Fitzmaurice's novel is based on the real life baseball game between the Japanese Americans relocated to the Gila River camp and the Arizona state champions, a match-up that the Japanese Americans won.
Although life for Tetsu has changed dramatically with their relocation, I am impressed with his maturity as he urges his mother not to buy him new shoes and marks his birthdays with no gifts. As the book nears its end, I am happy that Tetsu and his family will be moving on with their lives, no longer restricted to staying in the camp. However, the bond he has formed with his fellow teammates makes it difficult to see them moving on alone, without the camaraderie they now have.
I loved reading about Fitzmaurice's research for this book. Her story touches on a little known event in history - another aspect of internment camp life and how baseball helped pass the time and shape the lives of a group of young men.