- Title: How Much Do You Love Me?
- Author: Paul Mark Tag
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Sweetwater Books (August 12, 2014)
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- ISBN-10: 1462114474
- FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book Description (From Amazon):
As the phone continued to ring, Kazuko bent over and picked up the cardboard. Fingers shaking, she steadied herself against the counter and stared. It took a fourth ring before she composed herself enough to answer.
It was Patrick. “I was afraid that you had already left.” There was a pause. “Kazuko, are you there?”
Kazuko’s heart was thumping hard. “I’m here, Patrick. You’re not going to believe what I just found—in the last place we would have ever looked.”
On December 7, 1941, Keiko Tanaka finds her whole world affected by the Pearl Harbor bombings. Normally friendly neighbors are suddenly suspicious of her Japanese ancestry, and her engagement to James Armstrong—a Caucasian—becomes a crisis rather than a celebration. Despite their parents’ protests, Keiko and James decide to marry before she is sent to the internment camps and he to the war.
Nearly sixty years later, Keiko’s daughter, Kazuko—born in the camps—attends to Keiko on her deathbed. However, a chance incident makes her suspect that her mother is harboring a secret. The truths she is about to uncover might unravel the family . . . and change her very perception of abiding love.
From the author: During the tumult of the anti-Japanese frenzy that follows Pearl Harbor, Keiko Tanaka and her Caucasian boyfriend, James Armstrong, decide to marry. Knowing that the idea of their marriage will create a furor, they make their announcement jointly (at a Christmas dinner) to the two families (the Tanakas farm land is owned by the Armstrongs). The following sequence occurs after James has made the announcement. Isamu and Akemi are Keiko’s parents; Harrison and Barbara are James’; Misaki is Keiko’s twin sister.
James continued. “Keiko and I know how surprised you must be to hear this news.” All eyes returned to the speaker. “We thought long and hard about the best way to tell you. We chose Christmas Day so that you will always associate it with me and Keiko, to our happiness.”
At this point, Keiko thought she should stand as well. She reached across the table with her left hand and took his right, rotating her hand in his parents’ direction. Surely, they would appreciate his sincerity when they saw this beautiful symbol [author’s note: engagement ring] of his affection. She tried to gauge their reaction. She saw surprise, but not shock. So far, so good!
Keiko felt her face flush, and she knew why. She struggled to look to her right, toward the one person at the table whose approval was paramount. What she saw was not what she had hoped for. Isamu’s mouth hung open, and it looked like he was squinting. His color was gone. Fear gripped Keiko’s heart. She turned farther to try to assess her mother’s reaction. Unfortunately, because Akemi was looking at her husband, Keiko saw only her profile.
Hoping for better news at the opposite end of the table, Keiko turned to her left again. As she did so, Harrison and Barbara Armstrong switched their gaze from James to her. Compared to Keiko’s father, their complexions appeared more normal. The younger children at the table didn’t seem to know what to make of the situation. Their heads whipped back and forth from one adult to another, trying to make sense of what was obviously something quite unusual.
And then, Misaki came through. Across the table, next to James, the quiet of the room was broken by one set of hands clapping. Misaki promised that she would support me, and here she is. Perhaps concluding that if Keiko’s twin sister thought that this proclamation was worth applause, the rest of the children clapped as well.
Regrettably, Keiko saw that none of the adults was joining this spontaneous display of approval. Isamu’s back had straightened, and he was staring down the table, at no one in particular. Akemi bowed her head. Keiko hoped that James’s parents had chosen not to clap with the children so as not to embarrass their other adult guests. When the kids realized that those whose opinions at the table counted most were not participating, the applause petered out.
Keiko and James had figured that this could happen. James turned first toward his parents and then toward the Tanakas. “Mom, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka, I want you to know…” He spoke directly to Isamu. “Mr. Tanaka, please. I love your daughter more than anything. I promise you that I will take care of her, every bit as well as you have. You have my word.”
Keiko noticed the chirp of a bird outside the window. She wondered if anyone else did, the senses of those at the table seemingly muffled by the tension filling the room. Keiko decided it was time for her to speak, and she turned to her right. “Papa, Mama.” Tears began to flow. “Papa, please look at me.” Another moment. “Papa, please.” A bit of color had returned to Isamu’s face, and he lifted his head to face his daughter.
Keiko sniffled and struggled to contain her emotions. With her left hand still in James’s and wet with perspiration, she wiped at her face with her right. “Papa, I love James and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I need your blessing.” Another beat of silence. “Mama?”
I have read many books about World War II, and also many about the Japanese Internment Camps. This story of Keiko and James is right up there as one of my favorites. It’s already such an emotional subject of how American citizens of Japanese ancestry were treated during WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. But as the reader becomes entangled in the life of Keiko and James you can’t help but become emotionally involved.
The story takes place in two different time periods as the story jumps back and forth between 1941-1942 and 2000. I truly liked the way the story unfolded. I never felt that the story was stifled because of the events being told in this format.In 2000 Keiko has had a stroke, her husband James has Alzheimers and both can’t communicate with their children. The reader soon finds out that there are deep, dark secrets that Keiko and James’s children never knew about that eventually are revealed. They were shocking things and I figured it out near the end. Even though the story and characters are fictional, it had a realistic feel throughout it’s pages. It was not always a happy read because of the events, but so worthwhile and a good reminder to not forget the past.
I truly enjoyed this beautifully written story, full of sad American history, but also a love story with a rocky beginning that lasted. Anyone that enjoys historical fiction must read this book, especially those who love anything having to do with the WWII era.
Meet Author: Paul Mark Tag
Paul Mark Tag graduated with multiple degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and worked for the Naval Research Laboratory as a research scientist for over thirty years before retiring to write fiction. For years prior to retirement, and the following year exclusively, he honed his skills writing short stories. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Green’s Magazine, and The Storyteller, as well as The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy.In 2005, he self-published his first thriller, Category 5,which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification, followed by Prophecy and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy. With his historical novel How Much Do You Love Me? he has switched genres. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.