Like many other young adult novels, the plot of this book follows a basic story-line: exposition, rising action, climax, resolution. Because it is a fairly simple storyline, it is easy for the targeted audience (grades 7-10) to follow it. In order to teach or recommend this book, the plot basics are as follows:
- Exposition: set in Hawaii, just before the US enters WW2; Main character Eddy Okubo, a Japanese-American joins the US Army at 16;
- Main Conflict & Rising Action: Eddy's joining of the Army is the catalyst for all the conflicts/complications in the story, including prejudice (and behavioral reaction to this) that existed for Japanese-American soldiers, emotional conflicts of a soldier, and the struggle between Eddy and his family during this time; treatment of the Japanese soldiers grows worse as the conflict in the bigger war intensifies.
- Climax: the secret mission to train dogs to "smell" Japanese soldiers includes using Japanese-American soldiers in the training; Eddy is almost killed in this when his trainer calls the dog off too late.
- Resolution/Falling Action: the US re-evaluates the "dog project," deems it unsuccessful, and Eddy is sent to fight in Europe.