The Moon Bridge (book)
Book cover. Courtesy of Scholastic
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Ruthie Fox and her best friend Shirl are fifth graders at a San Francisco elementary school. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, a new student named Mitzi Fujimoto joins the neighboring fifth grade class. Ruthie steps in to stop Shirl and a classmate from bullying Mitzi. As a result, Ruthie is disinvited from Shirl's exclusive birthday party at the Japanese Tea Garden —recently renamed the "Chinese" Tea Garden. Left behind, Ruthie and Mitzi begin talking and agree that the Moon Bridge in the tea garden is the most beautiful place in the world. Over time, Ruthie's apprehension about befriending Mitzi fades as the girls play at Ruthie's secret places after school, share movie star crushes, and look for buried treasure. Mitzi shares her greatest secret: that she does not live in their school district and is using a family friend's address to attend their school. Ruthie promises to keep Mitzi's secret and their families begin to grow closer as well.
Everyone is taken by surprise when Mitzi and her family must leave their home for " Tanforan Assembly Center ." Upset that she did not have a chance to say goodbye to her friend, Ruthie sends a letter to the Fujimoto family store in hopes that the post office will know where to send it. Time passes and the letter finds Mitzi at Tanforan. Ruthie and Mitzi write naïve "coded" letters to each other and their friendship is sustained for a few short months. Mitzi's last hurried letter says that she and her family will be moved to another camp, and this is the last letter that Ruthie receives for several years.
As the unopened letters Ruthie sends to Mitzi are returned to her, Ruthie collects them in a cigar box. Ruthie's letters evolve into a kind of diary in which she records her everyday life. Inevitably, her entries get fewer and farther between. Over three years pass, V-J Day is declared, and Ruthie has not heard from Mitzi once.
Finally a few weeks after the war is declared over, Ruthie receives a letter from Mitzi postmarked from Jerome , Arkansas. Mitzi asks if they can meet at the tea garden under the Moon Bridge. Now teenagers, they hardly recognize each other. The once bubbly Mitzi has become quiet and pensive. She apologizes for not writing and shares the emotional burden the imprisonment has had on her and her family. The girls cry and embrace. Ruthie realizes that even though Mitzi is now "free," she is still mentally and emotionally imprisoned and would need time to adjust to life on the outside of the barbed wire fence.
Includes an afterward from the author which gives a historical background for the story. Marcia Savin writes that the inspiration for The Moon Bridge came from an incident from her childhood in which she stopped some girls from bullying a young Japanese girl in her school yard.