Synopsis of Broken Dolls

It hit me on the drive in to work today. What have I done? In the synopsis I originally presented in this blog, I told the ending to the book! My apologies to those of you who already read the original synopsis. Nothing worse than knowing how a story ends!

NOTE: The synopsis I originally posted here was written for agents and editors — they do want and need to know the ending of the book.

So, now I have amended it, removing the thrill-packed conclusion. Guess you’ll just have to stand in line with a throng of fans to find out! 🙂


It is 1941, and racial tensions are rising toward Japanese-Americans in the California community where nine-year old SACHIKO KIMURA lives. She is torn between the Japanese culture her mother compels her to learn, and wanting to be “American” like the rest of her friends. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, the tensions erupt, and Sachi is even more confused over her identity as a Japanese-American.

One afternoon, two days before Christmas, Sachi is at the park with her papa, MICHIO KIMURA. While playing on the slide, she witnesses three teenage boys taunting and beating her father. She especially remembers the colored boy with hazel eyes, TERRENCE HARRIS. Sachi’s older brother, NOBU KIMURA, comes upon the park scene in time to catch his three friends in the act. They run, and Nobu cries out to them. How could they beat up his father? The Kimura’s are informed of Papa’s death the day after Christmas.

On the morning of the beating, Terrence’s family had received a telegram that his father was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a blind fury, he leaves his mourning mother’s side, searching for something to make him forget his pain. He comes across two high school friends who convince him the only thing that will help is to “get a Jap.” When they find the Japanese man in the park, they do not know it is Mr. Kimura, father of their friend, Nobu. The three assailants are arrested later that night.

The attorney assigned to Terrence’s case, EDWARD BLAKE, has sympathy for Terrence’s story, having lost his own father at the hands of the Germans in World War I. Terrence is convicted of manslaughter and spends two years in jail. Blake becomes his mentor and helps to pay his way through college.

In April 1942, the Kimura’s are sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center—a converted horse race track. There, Sachi experiences her mother’s first outward discrimination, when she forbids Sachi to be friends with a boy of lower social class. But Sachi believes that attitude makes her mother as wrong as those who put them in the camp, and disregards her mother’s authority.

Several months later, Sachi and her family are transferred by train to the War Relocation Center in Rohwer, Arkansas, where Sachi develops a friendship with JUBIE LEE FRANKLIN, a local colored girl. But, as Sachi learns acceptance and forgiveness, Nobu and Mama become more embittered by events of racism toward Japanese-Americans.

In March, 1943, Nobu’s resentment over the United States’ treatment of its Japanese-American citizens leads him to become a “No No Boy,” when he answers “no” to the two questions on the loyalty questionnaire given to internees: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? And, Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attacks by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or other foreign government, power or organization? He is categorized as “disloyal,” and like thousands of others, is sent away to Tule Lake, a maximum-security camp. Sachi and Mama remain at Rohwer.

Terrence is released from prison in January, 1944, and shortly after, passes his entrance exam into the University of California. With the prompting and encouragement of Mr. Blake, Terrence has become interested in civil rights, and pursues a law degree.

The World War II years, internment and an unexpected event affect Sachi and Nobu differently, and their lives take separate directions when the war ends.

Will Nobu be able to forgive the way Japanese Americans were treated?
Will Sachi’s and Nobu’s close relationship remain unchanged?
What is the surprise event?

Stay tuned!

This entry was posted in Broken Dolls, internment, Japanese, No-no boy, Rohwer. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Synopsis of Broken Dolls

  1. Jan, this is intriguing, and I can't wait to read it in its entireity. Such a complicated little story. Should hold the reader's attention well!How close to an ending are you? How sad and wonderful at the same time, huh?


  2. Jan Morrill says:

    Thank you, everydayclimb. I'd say I'm 50 or so pages from finishing. I'll be more happy than sad about finishing, though, because I already have the sequel planned!


  3. Thanks for sharing! very few people write like this..i see you have made a long story too short which is very clear..The finishing was SAD..overall happy with this article..thanks for sharing!!


  4. wyeedds says:

    I look forward to reading the novel Jan. A "labor of love" is what I imagine it was/is for you. Makes me rethink of all the first hand stories my father and older sisters would tell me about China and the Communist Revolution.Congratulations on finishing (soon)!


  5. Jan Morrill says:

    Friendship Questionnaire, you're right – the story had to be cut short. Originally, it was intended to be a story from 1941-1963, but there was too much to tell. So, I have a sequel planned, which will continue from about 1955-1963.Wyeedds, it was a labor of love, based on a true event in my mother's life. Most of the book is completely fictionalized, though. I can imagine you have some poignant stories in your family history, too. Maybe you should write some of them down to pass on? Sadly, we don't tell stories of our past as our prior generations did.


  6. LeAynne says:

    Congratulations! It's been fun to hear bits and pieces, but delightful to read the whole plot line. I love how your story touches on such important social issues, applicable not only then, but also now. It makes the story – especially with how well you wrote it – not only good, but great.


  7. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks, LeAynne. Your comments mean a lot to me. Sorry if I spoiled the ending for you and others – I've amended above synopsis to remove the ending! 🙂


  8. bethanyward says:

    Jan, I've only been around to hear three weeks worth of this story, but I've been fascinated by it! I really look forward to being able to read it in full. I'm looking forward to seeing the surprise: I'll keep my eyes away from any spoilers until then! -Bethany


  9. Jan Morrill says:

    Thanks, Bethany! I'm glad you've started reading your story, too. I'm looking forward to learning more about Theron!


  10. Patty says:

    This is fabulous! Wonderful. Can't wait for it to be published and made into a blockbuster movie.


  11. Jan Morrill says:

    Thank you, Patty. Couldn't have done it without writer friends like you. I have a feeling we have a lot to look forward to in the coming year. 🙂


Join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s