MORE SERIOUS READING (Yes, I do some): A Review

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell was the Gulf Coast Read for this year.  Several counties on the Gulf Coast all read the same book, discussions and book club meetings are held about that book, and individuals participate in an “everyone has-read-that- book”  atmosphere.  Our Third Tuesday Book Club at the local library selected it as the “assignment” for October as well.

I did not think I wanted to read the book.  In the past, I have always been a reader of novels, especially specializing in debut novels, but as a self-improvement project, I was glad to read this book.

It is the true story of “FDR’s secret prisoner exchange program and America’s only family (italics mine) internment camp during WWII.”  It brings to light the hysteria of Americans against the Germans and Japanese living “among us” in those days, not necessarily a proud time in American history. It also describes the behind-the-scenes, political maneuvering of FDR as he used tactics presumably to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan.

The book tells, in anecdotal form, the stories of two teenage girls, one born to German parents, and one born to Japanese parents, both born here in the United States. It chronicles their eventual exchange and return to war devastated Germany and Japan, respectively, and the toll it had on their adult lives–all stemming from decisions made by their fathers, who had struggles of loyalties and allegiance  to their native countries, Germany and Japan, in spite of their offsprings’ pleas to remain in the only home they had ever known, the US.

The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, describes the book as “…compelling, thought-provoking, and impossible to put down.”  I found this a spot-on description as I read. It is a fine read for book clubs and individuals alike ,and history students will have an eye-opening peek into one of our fairly unknown periods of US history.  Because the camp was located in Crystal City, Texas, its descriptions and information will be of special interest to Texans.

It took me a renewal of the book to finish, and I barely finished by book club meeting day, but I am glad I read The Train to Crystal City.


Author: Rae Longest

This year marks my fiftieth year in AAUW (American Association of University Women). The Alvin chapter was begun in 1947, and as a new, green teacher to Alvin Independent School District, I joined in 1968. In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015. Eventually Powerful Women Readers folded as an on-line book club, but I kept the title and turned it into a blog. (See "Introduction,"first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 28th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

4 thoughts on “MORE SERIOUS READING (Yes, I do some): A Review”

    1. I KNOW you’ll enjoy reading it, and your book club might like it too. Ours had a great discussion on it and we could compare notes on the book clubs’ discussions when we get together.


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