Synopses & Reviews
During Word War II, a family fnds 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 (and suspicions) turn to the newcomers, the interlopers, the strangers.
This is her town as Rennie Stroud has never seen it before. She has just turned thirteen and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover 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.
During World War II, a family finds life turned upside-down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small town. Part thriller, part historical novel, this novel is a riveting exploration of the darkest--as well as the best--parts of the human heart.
About the Author
Award-winning author Sandra Dallas was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. She is the author of The Brides House, Whiter Than Snow, and Prayers for Sale, among others. Her novels have been translated into a dozen languages and optioned for films. She is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award and the two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award. For 25 years, Dallas worked as a reporter covering the Rocky Mountain region for Business Week, and started writing fiction in 1990. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.
Reading Group Guide
1.) Rennies parents caution her frequently not to lie. How well do they succeed in following their own advice? How akin is the way they keep large secrets (that Marthalice was pregnant, that Mary is very sick) to lying to their friends and daughter? Why do they draw the line against pretending Daisy was married before she got pregnant, but conspire with the Sheriff to dupe the town later?
2.) Tallgrass shows Rennie dealing with tough issues: rape, murder, prejudice, and danger to her family. How much of her opinions seem to come from her parents, and how much from her own observations? What did you think of her still being afraid of “the Japs,” even after she got to know and respect the Japanese her family had hired?
3.) What is the importance of community to men and women in this book? Mary has the courage of her convictions and the love of her family, so why does she still care what other people think? Do you think shes right to care?
4.) Mary Stroud didnt want the inmates of Tallgrass working on her farm. Why did she change her mind?
5.) There are two funerals in Tallgrass: Susan Reddicks and Harry Hirano. How are they similar? How are they different? How do they each change Rennies view of the Japanese and her town?
6.) In the 1940s, it was taken for granted that men acted and women talked. How much complicity do women have in the actions of their men: Mrs. Smith in her husbands late-night raid on Tallgrass; Mrs. Snow in her husbands descent into addiction and his treatment of her and Betty Joyce; Mrs. Reddick in her husbands refusal to acknowledge Helen? Why do you think that Mary Stroud broke through the convention to confront the men outside Tallgrass?
7.) Why were Americans so frightened of Japanese-Americans during World War II—more than the German- and Italian-Americans? In her acknowledgements, Sandra Dallas mentions that she was inspired to write this book, in part, by the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. What parallels do you see between them? What differences?
8.) Did you recognize any characters from Sandras other books in Tallgrass?