Synopses & Reviews
Set in a small town south of San Francisco during World War II, Words of My Roaring is a compelling picture of the confusions, the dislocations, and the brutality of war as they affect the home front. The novel recreates a neighborhood in San Bruno and connects it to San Francisco and the larger stage of the war. Tanforan racetrack, first an assembly camp for Japanese Americans awaiting internment, becomes a naval training base for Pacific-bound recruits. The elementary school becomes a USO, and air-raid drills and blackouts are routine as California prepares for an expected Japanese invasion. We see these events through the eyes of a novice teacher, an abandoned boy, two young girls whose mother works in the shipyards and whose father enlists in the Army, and a sailor scarred by his months in the war zone. Words of My Roaring is a richly textured, emotionally charged novel about the unlikely sources of human redemption.
World War II brings many extraordinary changes to San Bruno, a small town thirteen miles south of San Francisco. Nearby Tanforan Race Track becomes an assembly camp for Japanese Americans awaiting forced relocation and then a naval training base for Pacific-bound recruits. The elementary school auditorium turns overnight into a USO, and the city itself is suddenly a liberty town for 16,000 sailors. Meanwhile, California prepares for a Japanese invasion: barrage balloons float over San Francisco, a submarine net stretches across the entrance to the bay, and air-raid drills and blackouts become daily routines as everyone waits nervously for the first attack. We see these changes and their consequences through the eyes of Elaine Walker, the new fifth grade teacher at Edgemont Elementary; her students Mary Maureen and Ruthie Mitchum, whose parents have come from Tennessee to work in the shipyards, and Avery Fontana; and USN first-class petty officer Chuck Sweet, stationed at Tanforan, heart-scarred by his months in the war zone. Driven by despair, by sheer passion, or by love, they are called upon to respond to their accidental claims on one another with courage, honor, and grace. Words of My Roaring is an emotionally charged, beautifully written novel about the unlikely sources of human redemption.
About the Author
Ernest J. Finney grew up on the peninsula just south of San Francisco and now divides his time between that city and the San Joaquin Valley. His books include the novels California Time (1998), Lady with the Alligator Purse (1992) and Winterchill (1989), and the short story collections Flights in the Heavenlies (1996) and Birds Landing (1986).