This completed novel is available for agent representation.
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It's 1965 and in Ken’s War, a 50,000 word coming-of-age novel written for YA and adult readers, army brat Ken knows how the world works. So imagine how his world shifts when, because of his misbehavior, Ken and his father, Captain Paderson, are whisked off to a remote outpost in Japan.
Think of being immersed in a foreign culture, of learning that your mother back in Pennsylvania has replaced you and your dad, of discovering that you don’t know how the world works.
While avoiding his dad as much as possible, Ken feels justified in lying to and stealing from the people - Japanese and Americans - who care about him. In a subplot, Captain Paderson leads an investigation into stolen army supplies appearing on the black market.
After spending the night at a festival with his forbidden Japanese girlfriend, Ken returns to confront the man he believes is his greatest enemy. "Why did you lie?" his father asks. "Because I can't beat you up," Ken replies.
Ken learns firsthand about “dirtbags” and heroes, about betrayal and loyalty, and about first love and broken hearts.
Realizing that his father is a hero, and not his enemy as he’d mistakenly thought, is the true journey for Ken.
He awoke and half-remembered blinking at his own reflected eyeballs superimposed on nighttime Japan.
While the train cut through broken coastlines, they had napped on and off, eaten several meals, drunk quarts of green tea, and stretched their legs at village stations where passengers disembarked and other people climbed aboard. The hour was noon according to his watch, but he didn’t know what day it was.
Maeda gently shook him and pointed out the window on the left side of the moving train. He looked out the window. Tucked in the hills, rows and rows of manicured bushes with glossy, dark green leaves absorbed the sun’s rays. So what? Big deal, he thought. She pointed again and wiggled in her seat. He smiled, looked out the window, and tried to pretend that he cared about a bunch of tea bushes as much as she did.
There it was! The mountain from the jigsaw puzzle! Soaring up to the sky. The mountain hadn’t been in Hawaii as he’d once thought.
“Fujiyama,” Maeda said, softening the F so it sounded like an H.
Fujiyama had snagged a white cloud necklace on her snow-capped crest. The dazzling sun illuminated spears of snow radiating down her colossal slopes. Cranes soared on the thermals rising from the compacted towns clustered at Fujiyama’s foothills. As the train approached the mountain, the symbol of Japan loomed ever larger, ever larger, allowing no place for self-pity amid this utter beauty.
This was what she’d brought him to see.