Jan 22, 2016

Reviewer: Narita Roady

I learned about this book through an online widow’s support group. The title drew me in, and then I saw it. A picture of her and her husband, I could see their deep love for each other and it reminded of me and my husband. I had to read it. Of all the books I have read by widows since my husband died, Ms. Dettmann’s is the most honest. I appreciate her sharing her experiences with no sugar coating.

Other books I read shared the emotional trauma in generality, but not the details as this author did. Most didn’t share the physical aspects of deep grief and loss, but Diane did. There was a point in my grief journey I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me. My emotional state was much rawer and intense than what others shared. None talked in detail about the physical and mental toll the loss takes. I honestly thought I had some horrible disease or was mentally losing it. I couldn’t find anything in writing that matched my symptoms and mental condition. This frightened me even more. I had never had an anxiety attack before my husband’s death, and not to the point I thought I was dying. Page after page I found myself nodding my head and even saying, “Yes, yes,” as I related to her personal account.

Not that I want anyone to suffer through the loss of a spouse, but reading about her experiences as a widow, was comforting and I knew I was not alone. I wish this was the first book I had read. The book is skillfully written not only in its presentation but also in clearly expressing such a raw, vulnerable, intensely personal time. A standing ovation for Diane Dettmann and her courage, for not only being so transparent, but have the courage to revisit such a painful time by writing this book. It was a comfort and encouragement. Thank you!

 I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All the opinions I expressed were my own. Narita Roady, Book Reviewer and Blogger

Author Diane Dettmann Endnote: John and I were married twenty-eight years and madly in love. Narita Roady's insights capture the depth of my loss and my struggle to make it through the grief. The book's helping other widows and widowers and that makes the seven years I spent writing the book worth it. Many thanks to Narita Roady for taking the time to review Twenty-Eight Snow Angels.

Jan 7, 2016

Courageous Footsteps Book Review

Beth Virtanen, PhD, Finlandia University and Founder of the Finnish North American Literature Association

Diane Dettmann has created a heart-wrenching masterpiece in her latest work, Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. In it, she tackles the topics of inequity, bigotry, and intolerance in an unemotional manner which allows the hard truths that underpinned (and perhaps still do) American culture to come to the fore for examination in this her latest work.
The novel shares the story of a middle-class Japanese-American family made up of a teenaged girl Yasu, her brother Haro, and their shopkeeper parents as the country is swept up in the anti-Japanese hysteria following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The primary narration is through the eyes of Yasu, the high-school girl whose future is upended
The Japanese-American family strives to preserve some dignity while they suffer the loss of nearly all they possess—their means of livelihood, their possessions, their home, their security, and almost their dignity. In this dark tale, life goes from bad to worse in terms of living conditions and prospects for the future, especially when Haro is drafted to serve on the European front and leaves young Yasu with her parents in the detention camp.
In a nearly absurd parallel, Yasu’s high school friend, a white, middle-class girl, completes the plans that both girls had set before themselves of going to college and seeking their individual success. The letters shared between the two serve to highlight in stark contrast their prospects, which at the opening of the story had been identical. One girl is detained and forced into manual labor in the detention camp while the other completes high school and is accepted at Berkeley.
The maddening and relentless progression of the story is unavoidable, and readers resists at every turn what we know is coming, until there is a surprising and ambiguous turn of events that allows for Yasu’s accidental shift in fate that suggests a slightly more hopeful, but clearly uncertain, future. Yasu’s opportunity, we know, is not to some utopian ideal. It is, at best, a transition to a new kind of struggle, but perhaps one that holds somewhat less pessimism than what is located in the detention camp.
This novel is sensitively written, incorporating a complex narrative structure that shifts in perspective among the principle characters. Although told predominantly from Yasu’s point of view, the passages from the other perspectives allow for a richer narrative experience and a greater understanding of the central issues at play that created the diverse outcomes for members at various locations within the social and ethnic hierarchy of the day. While written for and receiving honors as young-adult fiction, this work is suitable for a general audience as well.

Dettmann is author of Twenty-Eight Snow Angels: A Widow’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal and co-author of Miriam: Daughter of Immigrants. This latest novel, building on the two earlier and well-received works, embodies her greatest achievement to date.

Dettmann, Diane. (2015). Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel. Denver, CO: Outskirts Press. ISBN: 978-4787-5558-6 Available in various independent bookstores and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/dianedettman

Oct 31, 2015

An Excerpt From Diane's Debut Historical Novel

Grief comes in many forms. In my debut historical novel, a Japanese American family experiences many traumatic losses that affect them both physically and emotionally. 

The following excerpt is from my historical fiction book, Courageous Footsteps A WWII Novel. The book reveals the hardships and injustices, two teenagers, Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, and their parents endure when they are imprisoned in a U.S. Japanese interment camp during the war. The book begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Japan's attack sets into motion serious, life changing consequences for the Sakamoto family. 

"An important story, relevant even today." Ann Wolff, Stillwater Library Foundation President

As Yasu sat at the dining room table, she struggled to focus on her algebra equations, but X and Y didn’t equal anything. Nothing made sense. She scribbled designs in the margin of her paper while her mind focused on the attack on Pearl Harbor. After an hour she gave up and decided to read her literature assignment, Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. As afternoon faded into evening, a subdued mood filled the house until Kenta’s barking and growling broke through the silence. She dashed into the living room.
A black four-door sedan parked in front of the house, and two men wearing double-breasted suits and fedora hats got out. They pushed open the gate and marched up the sidewalk. Yasu held her breath as her father moved slowly toward the front door.
He grabbed Kenta “Hush, Kenta!” When he saw Yasu, he said, “Lock him on the back porch and go to your room.”
She took the strong German shepherd by the collar and quickly guided him down the hallway and through the kitchen. 
“Stay,” she commanded as she backed away.
Kenta growled and pawed the door as Yasu edged down the hallway. She peered into the living room, trying to catch a glimpse of the strangers.

Courageous Footsteps appeals to both young adult and adult readers. It's an often untold piece of America's WWII history. Book information at: https://www.amazon.com/author/dianedettmann

Feel free to share on your social media pages and with readers, educators and high school students. Book Trailer For Courageous Footsteps A WWII Novel