Bridge to the Sun Critical Essays

Gwen Terasaki


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

While Bridge to the Sun was not written specifically for young adult readers, it has been popular with them. Terasaki successfully captures her feelings as a young bride and then as a mother who is thrust into a world at war. She is inexperienced and vulnerable but grows through her experiences. She clearly depicts her husband as an idealist and hero, swept aside by a world gone mad.

Terasaki does not fictionalize her life, but she is selective in the telling of it. Dramatic vignettes from her days in China and Japan enliven the story line of the book. It is clear that her forte is storytelling, not historical analysis, although her historical facts are accurate.

Because Bridge to the Sun exhibits respect and affection for both Japanese and American cultures, it is a book that enhances the self-esteem of young adult readers of both traditions. Terasaki explains many Japanese customs concerning women, men, marriage, and family. Sometimes she is critical of certain practices, but she always shows fundamental respect for Japanese mores. The earlier portions of the book lay the groundwork for the war years by exploring the differences between the Japanese and American cultures.

Once the Terasakis return to Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the emphasis of the book focuses on the family’s struggle for survival. By choosing to go to Japan with her husband, Terasaki makes evident one of her most important themes: the primacy of families and individuals over nations and homelands. As the title of the book implies,...

(The entire section is 641 words.)