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Publisher's Summary

During World War II, a family's life is 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".

Rennie Stroud has never seen it before. She has just turned 13 and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things.

Part thriller, part historical novel, Tallgrass is a riveting exploration of the darkest and best parts of the human heart.

©2007 Sandra Dallas; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Fiction, 2008

"Poignant." (Booklist)
"Compelling....Dallas' terrific characters, unerring ear for regional dialects and ability to evoke the sights and sounds of the 1940s make this a special treat." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Little gem

The story enfolds from the perspective of a 13 year-old girl who lives next to a Japanese internment camp during WWII in Colorado. The small farming community reacts to racism, murder, abuse, rape and adultery and little Rennie is forced to grow up very quickly. It is interesting to see the main character’s own prejudices change as her eyes open to what is really going on in the town and as she sees the affects of war close to home. I would recommend this book, it seemed to capture this era perfectly in language and tone and the narrator was fantastic.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 11-22-14

Wonderful Listen

It was so good to really get immersed in a good listen!! The time was simpler and the characters revealed that. What was good was good and what was bad was bad. The main family exemplified strong values. They stood up for what they believed in and acted out in appropriate ways for what was wrong. I loved the scene where a number of men at night were going to "raid" the camp. In simple honesty, the wife started greeting the men by name, asking about family and work and such. Very simple, but very powerful. She knew and stated that if they were called out by name, they would be ashamed of what they were trying to do and leave. And that was exactly what happened. Simple, honest, powerful.

For a story about how a Japanese internment camp changed a local village, there was not much about the "prisoners" in the story. There was enough to show how the main family tried to do what they could to provide a good example and interact with them as much as possible. But the Japanese families were just a side event, even though their existence was the basis of the story.

Narration was excellent. This is definitely worth the credit. I will purchase more by this author.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laurie
  • Florence, KY, United States
  • 05-24-07

A nice read

I really enjoyed listening to this book. In some ways, it reminded me of "To Kill a Mockingbird", in the sense that it is told from the viewpoint of a young girl on the verge of adulthood. The book was read in a very soothing tone that also added to the feel of a story set in the 1940's. Not a masterpiece, certainly, but a good story with a little bit of history thrown in.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Entertaining and heartfelt story

Although there are more and more books now being written about the Japanese internment camps, this is a different kind of story, as it is told by a young girl, who is not Japanese, outside of the camp. I thought the narrator did a good job on the voices, though the accent was hardly Coloradoan (more southern sounding at times).

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 11-02-12

History Lesson for a Younger Reader!

By younger, I mean someone between 14 and 18 . . . . and since I'm over 60, you'll understand that this simple, but well-presented story lacks the sophistication most adult readers require. It is set during WWII, and the story is told from the perspective of a rapidly maturing 13 year old. Tallgrass is a camp for Japanese Americans and the story revolves around a family whose morals create opportunities for them to befriend the relocated citizens; despite the opposition of most of their rural neighbors. It is definitely a "G" rated story -- with lots of little life lessons there for the taking. Despite the fact that I felt it was targeting a youthful audience, I listened to it all; mostly because the narration was quite good. The story line was predictable; the outcome expected. Sort of like "Little House in the Prairie."

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

wonderful--and enlightening

One of the earlier reviewers said it reminded her of To Kill A Mockingbird, and I strongly agree. Both books featured sharply intelligent young girls, kind parents who chose to do the right thing, even in the face of popular opposition, and a strong theme of social justice adroitly woven throughout a story full of humanity and compassion. Interesting that this came along at a time public skeptism and prejudice is directed toward Muslim and Arab Americans... Well worth the read, and narrator Loreli King did a wonderful job. Strongly recommended for the young adult reader.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Beverly
  • 05-15-16

So-so: Not Great, But Not Bad

It was good to find out more about the Japanese internment camps. It held my interest enough to finish listening, but just barely. Good characterization. Good narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrea
  • Riverside, CA, United States
  • 07-28-15

High potential, poorly delivered

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Maybe - it's definitely young adult, and I would have loved it when I was 12. It has moments of brilliance but it also has partial plot copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, without the edge. It's very simplistic, more simplistic than a young teen, and while the author challenges racial stereotypes of the period, she also reinforces others, such as the acceptance of highly gendered roles. The author's portrayal of farm life and rural community at the time reads well and true.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The father, although he seems to be an undisguised copy of Atticus Finch.

How could the performance have been better?

I usually love Lorelei King's reading, but she was truly miscast for this novel. She reads the voices as cute or comic and it comes across as overly twee. All the young kids' voices are presented as if they were 8 years old and bratty, even though they are in their teens and written to be thoughtful.

Could you see Tallgrass being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Maybe, on the Hallmark channel.

Any additional comments?

Great concept, good story, uneven writing, badly read. I would recommend the book to a 12-13 year old.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michele
  • Hillsdale, NJ, USA
  • 04-13-10


Very predictable and boring story line. Skip this one.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

just ok

This was billed as a mystery novel, but lacks one key element of a good mystery--there is no way for the reader to figure out "who did it" until it's revealed at the end. I don't like this kind of revelatory ending. The main characters are thoughtfully written and compelling, but the plot was a bit thin.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful