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Disher, Garry. The divine wind.

DISHER, Garry. The divine wind. Scholastic, Point. 153p. c1998. 0-439-36916-9. $5.99. JS

To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2002: This is an Australian novel that won the 1999 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award. It's an Australian variation of the theme in the American novel Snow Falling on Cedars, set on the coast of Australia during WW II. The threat of Japanese invasion was more real there than on the west coast of the US, and the fears and prejudice against Japanese-Australian citizens were similar to the same feelings and actions in America and Canada against their own citizens of Japanese descent. The narrator in The Divine Wind is Hart, whose father employs many Japanese in his pearling fleet. One Japanese family in particular is close to Hart's family, and in fact Hart is in love with their daughter Mitsy. Hart, his sister Alice, and Mitsy grew up together, going to the movies, to school. When war comes they are torn apart: Alice enlists as an army nurse and is captured by the Japanese in Singapore. Hart's leg injury from a storm at sea keeps him at home, and he shelters Mitsy and her mother when they are threatened by internment. He and Mitsy become lovers, but the war intrudes on their happiness together when Hart realizes he too has a prejudice against any Japanese because of Alice's fate and because of the Japanese attack on their town.

Disher has written more than 35 books and his storytelling techniques are akin to a master like Nevil Shute: a strong narrative, slightly understated emotional descriptions (which in the end can create a more powerful emotional punch), and a vivid description of a time and a place. The cover art is excellent, which will help to draw in YA readers. The story is an honest depiction of the complexity of prejudice, especially against the Aborigines and Asians in Australia in the 1940s; of course, these complexities of prejudice are the same against any people anywhere.

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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