New York Times Best Selling Author

Tallgrass

Tallgrass will undoubtedly draw apt comparisons with such novels as To Kill a Mockingbird and Snow Falling on Cedars.
—William Kent Krueger, author of the Corcoran O’Connor novels

During World War II, a family finds life turned upside-down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small Colorado town. After a young girl is murdered, all eyes turn to the newcomers. Rennie has just turned thirteen, and until this time, life has been predictable and fair. But the winds of change are coming and with them, a shift in her perspective and a discovery of secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things. Part thriller, part historical novel, Tallgrass is a riveting exploration of the darkest—and best—parts of the human heart.


Author’s Note

I first visited Amache, the World War II Japanese relocation camp near Granada, Colo., that I’ve renamed Tallgrass, on a pheasant-hunting trip in 1961. Later, I found out that my University of Denver journalism classes were held in an old Amache barracks building that had been moved to the campus. It wasn’t until 2005, however, that I considered the disgraceful saga of Japanese internment during World War II as a subject for a novel. That was when I read a superb book on the camp, Amache: The Story of Japanese Internment in Colorado During World War II. At the same time, I was disturbed by news stories of suspected Iraqi War terrorists being held without charges at Guantanamo Bay. I couldn’t help wondering if there were a corollary between these two disturbing situations. Since I am not Japanese, it would have been presumptuous of me to write from the point of view of an evacuee. So I tell my story through the voice of Rennie Stroud, a 13-year-old Caucasian girl whose family lives adjacent to the camp.

I moved to Denver in 1945, the year that Amache closed, and I’ve known a number of Japanese American evacuees who were interned at Amache as well as at Heart Mountain in Wyoming, two of the 10 relocation camps in the U.S. I’m grateful to them for sharing their experiences.


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