Sarah Birds gutsy, sharp, and touching new novel opens at full speed.
Bernadette "Bernie" Root, military brat, speaks. She has never really noticed what a peculiar bunch of nomads her eight-member Air Force family is (with the exception of her Post Princess sister, Kit), until the summer after her first year of college when she joins them at their new assignment: Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
Just as Okinawa turns out to be a sorry version of the Japanese paradise Bernie knew in her childhood at Yokota Air Base, her family, especially her once-beautiful mother, Moe, and her former spy-pilot father, Mace, seems to have been in decline since those glory days of the American Raj. Days when her mother was happy and their best friend, Fumiko, now lost to them, was the familys maid. The worst part of Okinawa for Bernie, though, is realizing how perfectly she fits with her oddball family and how badly she needs to get out.
So when a dance contest first prize, a trip to Japan, offers a chance to escape, she takes it, playing second banana to a third-rate comedian on a tour of Japans military bases. At their grand finale at the Yokota Officers Club, Fumiko finally reappears, and Bernie discovers the terrible price that is paid when the secrets nations hide end up buried within families.
Dear Dependents of the United States Air Force:
Welcome to your new duty assignment, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
Okinawa is the principal island of the 160 islands that make up the Ryukyu archipelago. Only 67 miles long and from 2 to 17 miles wide, Okinawa is often referred to as the "Keystone of the Pacific" because of its strategic Far East location roughly 900 miles from Tokyo, Manila, Seoul, and Hong Kong.
Originally an independent nation, Okinawa has endured long periods of both Chinese and Japanese domination. After World War II, the island remained under U.S. military control. The United States will continue its custodianship as long as conditions of threat and tension exist in the Far East.
Bear in mind as you begin your tour that the serviceman's family is just as much a representative of the United States Government as the serviceman himself.
Your President and Commander in Chief,
Lyndon Baines Johnson
On the map on the ...
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