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3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  8,152 Ratings  ·  1,350 Reviews
An essential American novel from Sandra Dallas, an unparalleled writer of our history, and our deepest emotions...

During World War II, a family finds 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.
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Hardcover, 305 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2007)
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Sally I just got to this part. It is suprising, but I'm wondering if it was needed for the story. I did ask, like the girl, why didn't she use the chamber…moreI just got to this part. It is suprising, but I'm wondering if it was needed for the story. I did ask, like the girl, why didn't she use the chamber pot?(less)
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Cathrine ☯
From the blurb: “Part thriller, part historical novel.”

I beg to differ. There is nothing about this that would put it in the category of “thriller.” In my opinion “historical novel” is stretching it as well. Inspired by historical events might fit. Some reviews and endorsements have also suggested that this could be considered in the same company with To Kill A Mockingbird. Again, perhaps inspired by, with scenes and characters mirrored from that treasure of a novel is my takeaway.
It was ne
Jan 30, 2008 Bob rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I bought a copy of it last summer when the author was signing copies in a little bookstore in Fort Madison, Iowa, and gave it to my wife as a birthday gift. Last week I picked it up at the library on CD to listen to while driving. listening to it was a pleasant suprise. The story begins in 1942 in rural Colorado as Japanese Americans are arriving at an internment camp. The story unfolds through the eyes of a thirteen year old local farm girl. It is a story of the tragedy of wa ...more
May 17, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Sandra Dallas is back! I had thoroughly enjoyed Dallas's earlier novels but was sorely disappointed with The Chili Queen so it was with some apprehension that I approached Tallgrass. Would she be able to deliver?
Deliver she did. Only two or three pages in and I was hooked (the hallmark of a good book.) Unlike with some of her previous novels there are no quirky characters here, which is fitting as the subject matter does not warrant it. The central characters are likable. Rennie, the story's na
Jun 10, 2009 Mindi rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2015 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
A coming of age story set on a farm in Colorado near a Japanese internment camp during World War II -- what's not to like? It had every storyline I enjoy all rolled up into one neat little book. Loved it!
Joy H.
I wrote the following while reading _Tallgrass_.

Speaking of being disappointed, I'm trying to get through _Tallgrass_ by Sandra Dallas. I can't believe how the author stretches the book out with descriptions of boring domestic routines which can hold no possible interest for anyone. For example: "The boys had finished their coffee, and Carl took their cups to the sink, washed them, and put them into the dish drainer... Dad ... standing up and reaching for his plaid wool jacket on a hook beside t
This book was written beautifully through the eyes of a young farm girl, Rennie Stroud. The setting is Ellis, Colorado during World War II and the Japanese incarcerations in internment camps. It discusses the narrow-mindedness, fear, and stereotyping that has repeated itself throughout the history of our country when it comes to the white man's view of other races and cultures. It touches upon subjects of life during war times, the struggle of the small-town American to survive in these times, t ...more
By far one of my favorite Sandra Dallas books (with Buster Midnight's Café), Tallgrass is set during World War II and at its center is the plight of the American Japanese’s being forcibly relocated to internment camps, mostly in the West of the US, after Pearl Harbor. The novel is told through the eyes of Rennie Stroud, a thirteen year old beet-farm girl, who lives near one of these camps in their community of Ellis, Colorado. This one internment camp is called Tallgrass because of the patch of ...more
Jun 05, 2009 Lucy rated it it was ok
I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter of Tallgrass. I thought I was getting To Kill A Mockingbird but with innocent Japanese detainees in camps during World War II instead of an innocent black man detained for rape in the south. It had the requisite small town setting with a few violently ignorant residents. It had the naive daughter narrating the story with a do-the-right-thing-even-if-it's-unpopular father as her hero. Like I said, the flavor was there.

But the taste was not. I don't know if t
Judy King
Mar 21, 2015 Judy King rated it really liked it
The only other book I've read about Japanese detention camps was Corner of Bitter and sweet by Jaime Ford. This book takes place in farmland of Colorado and tells the tale of the farm family that lives near the camp and of the townspeople who are ready to blame the members of the camp for anything and everything that goes wrong. With a sister that has moved to the city, a mother with a heart condition, a classmate who is raped and murdered, and a brother who joins up and is MIA, the girl in this ...more
This would make a really good book club book. It’s a fascinating look at the Internment camps, actually more of a look on the people in the towns and how they felt about it; it was nice to find out that some didn't want the camps and that these people should be released because they were American citizens. It’s a sad chapter in the US History but something that we need to look at so it doesn’t happen again especially in this day and age.

I enjoyed the characters in this book especially Rennie an
Maia B.
I had a difficult time with this book. The premise was interesting - the internment of the Japanese during WWII - and it's one very rarely addressed, unlike racism against blacks or sexism in the Middle East. Probably because it's an episode the U.S. would like to forget - for good reason.

Normally, I finish a new book in a few days, and this one took me about that long, though it's short. I had a hard time picking it up. It sat there on my bedside table, and every night I'd settle down and look
May 09, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
This novel is an excellent addition to the collection of materials concerning Japanese internment during WWII. Actually, the "camps" for Japanese-American citizens were called "relocation camps." The "internment camps" were for those considered to be high risk/threat. I love a book where I learn more about a subject, and Tallgrass fits that bill. Tallgrass is a fictional name for a relocation camp in Colorado (they did have an actual camp in that state, Amache). The story centers around a family ...more
May 12, 2009 Kerri rated it it was ok
Wow, this book was pretty bad. Tallgrass is an internment camp in Colorado outside the town of Ellis. A town where everyone knows your name and business. The japanese internment camp has the townsfolk a little worried, but not for the Stroud's. The Stroud's own the local beet farm and soon employ some prisoners from Tallgrass to work the fields. The story is told by Rennie Stroud, a 13 year old girl who is trying to understand the current events surrounding her. Suddenly, Rennie's friend Susan i ...more
May 13, 2014 Beckiezra rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Great book, wonderful characters, nicely developed plot and setting, a good look at life during the war from the perspective of a young teenager living in a very rural farm town that happened to have a Japanese detention center. It wasn't always engaging in a way that made me want to keep reading but the characters were all really likable and it was a pleasure to read, slowly. Side benefit: I'd like to get into quilting now. As always, see my comments to see what I actually thought as I read (th ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
This book takes place during World War II and what happens when a Japanese internment camp is opened in the small town of Ellis, Colorado. The narrator is a thirteen-year-old girl named Rennie Stroud. I thought this book would be more about the camp, but it is really about the people of Ellis and how their prejudices affect their lives. Rennie learns a lot about life and people in this story. It is a very good coming of age story with a lot of emotion and great characters. Author, Sanda Dallas’ ...more
Jennifer Daniel
Jan 13, 2014 Jennifer Daniel rated it liked it
An interesting novel about the Japanese interment camps during WW2. It reflected how one small Colorado town dealt with it. Not always well for the most part with the exception of the main character's family. There was also a murder & typical family dramas for this beet farm family. Although not a YA book, it was told from the point of view of a 13 year old girl which I liked.
Carol N
Sep 26, 2016 Carol N rated it it was amazing
“Tallgrass” is set during World War II and focuses on the plight of the American born Japanese that were "relocated" to internment camps. It is told through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old farm girl, who lives near one of these camps in the southeastern Colorado. A local handicapped young girl is found brutally murdered. Quickly the town’s population assumes the Japanese must have committed the crime. This murder and the local folk's reaction form the central plot of the book.

Sandra Dallas does
Sep 24, 2016 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty shallow writing of a subject of importance. I've been reading a number of Dallas' novels lately. I didn't notice where the publication of this books occurs, but the way it reads, it must be one of the first/early ones. The subject matter was what drew me. I was very young when WWII began; when Japan attacked us. But I've loved history all my life. I was amazed when as an adult with two years of college behind me, I learned in a history class about how Japanese-Americans were rounded up ...more
Jun 23, 2014 Deborah rated it it was amazing
TALLGRASS is one of those stories I won't forget. Some authors' books blend all together after a while, but this one really stands out. Sandra Dallas weaves a plot set in a small rural farm town in the early 1940's. It's about one particular family, the Strouds, and their interaction with other townspeople when a Japanese internment camp is built on the edge of town, adjacent to the Stroud's beet farm. Times are rough--they're "making do" without the usual amenities of life because of the depres ...more
Jan 02, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
Really good book about the Japanese internment camp during World War II and a colorado town's relationship with them. I love being able to learn about a piece of history while enjoying a good story. Good story about a strong-willed father's bravery to stand up to prejudice and how this impacted his family and those around him.
Sep 24, 2015 Danine rated it liked it
I liked this book better than I thought I would. Growing up in Greeley, CO and knowing where a Japanese camp was settled there really made this book hit home.
The pace and feel of this book reminded me of Haruf's "Plainsong". Unfortunate and very real predicaments and how members of small towns handle them with stride among a typical small town mentality.
My favorite character was the mother, Mary. She always did right by herself, her family, and what was right despite the severe prejudices held
Tallgrass of a fiction Japanese internment camp during World War II. Tallgrass, the novel, centers less around the camp itself and more about the small (and small-minded) town that surrounds it. Racism and tension run amok, worsening when a local girl is raped and murdered and most of the townspeople believe a prisoner at the camp must be responsible. Told from the viewpoint of thirteen year old Rennie from her family beet farm, the story has multiple layers and dimensions and all the main chara ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
The Japanese internment camps have always been a puzzle to me and a bit of a black spot in American history. Why just the American citizens who were Japanese, and not the Americans of German heritage? Was it because they were more visible, more "different"? Were there more economic gains to be had in terms of the land and business they had to abandon? The government seemed to not see the oddities in taking their possessions, and bundling them behind barbed wire in internment camps, yet expecting ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books-read
After a friend of mine raved about Tallgrass, by Sandra Dallas, I decided to try the audio version. The reader Lorelei King was terrific. I started this one about 2 weeks ago, but since I do not drive long distances too often it took me until now to finish it.

The story is narrated by a young girl named Rennie Stroud, and the story takes place in the early part of 1942, not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Rennie tells the story what happened the summer she turned thirteen when the Japanes
Jul 25, 2012 Julia rated it it was ok
Set in a Colorado beet farming community that gets a Japanese internment camp, this is To Kill a Mockingbird nearly scene for scene. It’s told by Rennie, a young girl. Her father is a forceful man who has given up fighting, but goes against many in the town by hiring Japanese- Americans to help him on the farm. There’s a mean low- class family who threaten Rennie’s family. The neighbor ladies make cakes for each other, even during the war. Rennie, her Mom (there’s a difference with TKaM, Rennie ...more
Oct 11, 2011 Molly rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio
In the audio interview, when asked about the point-of-view, Dallas said something along the lines of, "I didn't want to write from a Japanese perspective because I'm not Japanese and that would be pretentious."

But she's using these experiences as a backdrop to her narrative and culling a Scout-esque narrator in fairly flawed way. This is first-person omniscient, somehow, with parts of the story revealed that the narrator never observes.

Also in the interview, the author is asked why the Japanese

I enjoyed this book despite the amount of prejudice, hatred and unlikable characters that populated this book! That is because the main characters were so strong and good. There were a ray of sunshine in a dark, troubled time in our history. I have read about the concentration camps for the Japanese and have been appalled that our nation - indivisible, with liberty and justice for all - was so divided! I have always wondered also why there were not camps for people of German descent but there we
Jun 15, 2015 Everydayreader1 rated it it was amazing
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas is a book I shall never forget because it has so much going for it. Set during WWII, it captures the mood of the country and the experience of Japanese Americans who were rounded up and made to live in internment camps. And it has so much more than just historical significance to recommend it--family drama, mystery, romance and murder--all woven together to provide an interesting read that I didn't want to put down.
Cody Doll
Aug 05, 2015 Cody Doll rated it it was ok
I thought this book would have more interaction with the Japanese camp but was disappointed. I think this story is great way to feel how the depression and Pearl Harbor changed America and girls/boys growing up then. The main character I felt was a little flat but she was also a 13 year old girl that was trying to figure out what was going on with adults.
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Award-winning author SANDRA DALLAS was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff
More about Sandra Dallas...

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