Sugarcane Train is a wartime tale that explores the many facets of love and loss, while reminding us of the remarkable power of friendship in dark times.
Sugarcane Train - a novel
Territory of Hawaii, 1944. Losing men comes naturally to Violet Iverson. So, when a troop of American soldiers shows up in their tiny sugarcane town, she knows to keep her distance. She and her daughter Ella are piecing their lives back together after her husband's disappearance two years ago. No leads, just his car found parked at the edge of a cliff and a small patch of blood. Ella knows something, but refuses to talk. Someone or something has scared her into silence. Rumors fly around town – Herman worked for the Japanese. A moonshine deal went sour. He was gambling on cock fights. Working for the OSS – and Violet begins to wonder how well she really knew him. As the war ramps up, she and her friends increasingly lean on each other for support. Setsuko, a fellow schoolteacher, watches as her husband is dragged off to an interment camp, while Jean is convinced that Bud, a summer fling, will die fighting in the Pacific. Ella, on the other hand, finds solace in an African lion smuggled in by the troops. There’s also the matter of Sergeant Stone, a brash Marine who comes to their aid when the women are taken in on suspicion of espionage. In clearing their name, he uncovers a clue that eventually leads to the shocking truth about Violet’s husband. Stone's magnetism draws Violet in, despite repeated efforts to keep him at bay. So, when the inevitable happens and the soldiers get orders to ship out on Christmas Day, she faces losing everything. Again.
Over 50,000 Marines, and mascot Roscoe the lion, lived at Camp Tarawa on the Big Island before sailing off to Iwo Jima and Saipan, two of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific.