Monday, April 15, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: A Diamond in the Desert

Today’s Pick:  A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Viking, 2012.

From the Publisher:
For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game.

On December 6, 1941, Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, 1941, everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family will be relocated to an internment camp.
Gila River camp isn't technically a prison, but with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no time frame for leaving, it might as well be. So when someone has the idea of building a baseball diamond and starting a team, Tetsu is overjoyed. But then his sister gets dangerously sick, forcing him to choose between his family and his love of the game. This is an impeccably researched, lyrical story about baseball, honor, and a turbulent period in U.S. history.

My Take: 
Since I’m not a big baseball fan, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I loved the poetic writing style and it was interesting to learn a little about this period in history and the terrible indignities of life in a Japanese internment camp. I felt an emotional connection the main character, Tetsu, and his family, and anger that people had to endure this life. It’s a quieter story, but it’s not lacking in tension. The short chapters made this easy to read and gave space for the reader to process story events.

As a writer, I’d return to this story again to study how the author truly made every word count. The writing seems deceptively simple, but it creates a lot of emotion for the reader.

Favourite quotes:
“I didn’t want food. I only wanted to swing the bat over home plate and watch the ball take off between short and third.”

“But there was plenty being said by our twisted hands, and our stiff shoulders, and our silence.”

Other Info:
Kathryn Fitzmaurice is a full-time writer who lives in California. She became interested in writing at a young age, after visiting her grandmother, a science fiction author.

Kathryn has a smart but bossy dog named Holly, who knows 16 different tricks. (I hope her dog will be in one of her books one day!)
A Diamond in the Desert is based on a true story. According to her blog, Kathryn did two years of research for this book, reading every newspaper printed at the camp and interviewing three of the players on the team, who were still alive and in their 80’s.

The film rights for A Diamond in the Desert have been purchased by Dyson Thomas Films, LLC.  

Other books by this author include:
Destiny Rewritten, 2013

The Year the Swallows Came Early, 2009

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!



  1. I'm not a big baseball fan either, but you've got me thinking that maybe I should check this out, especially to see how every word matters.

    1. Natalie, there is lovely writing in this book. You'd probably enjoy it.

  2. I love this book! And the unique structure suits the writing. It is amazing how much research and time Kathryn spent writing the book.

  3. Interesting -- I've just finished Destiny, Rewritten, but haven't read this one.

    I'm not a baseball fan either. But one of my favorite movies is A League of Their Own, and I used baseball in two of my own novels. Go figure. :)

  4. This is why I love middle grade mondays. I remember wanting to read this book a year or so ago and then I forgot about it.
    Thanks for the reminder. :)

  5. I loved Destiny, Rewritten and I just checked out The Year the Swallows Came Early. I hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds like I need to add it to my list!


I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I’ve decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).