Top positive review
This book has a lot of what I've been looking for
Reviewed in the United States on October 12, 2020
My grandparents, parents, all my aunts and uncles,every single person of Japanese ancestry I knew until I got to college went through the US concentration camps. I thought it was a kind of demented rite of passage when I was a child. However, none of them would really talk about it. Their attitude was it was another humiliating, shameful, ugly phase of their lives best walked away from as fast as possible, forgotten if possible. Mom would tell us little anecdotes about her camp life, she was in her mid teens when they were forced into the camp, just very short things that happened, always funny. Like there was a ditch that ran close to their barrack that you had to walk over to get to other places but that ditch was dirty and often filled with run off "water" from the backed up toilet outhouse or something--you didn't want to be in the ditch ever. The inmates put a plank over the ditch to be able to walk over to the other side and the boys would always try to bang and move the plank when girls walked over just so they'd fall in the ditch. Funny brief things like that. I attended a few of the hearings held, heard some of the memories a few of the braver people spoke about, and since then I've wondered a great deal about how it must have felt going through all that my people went through--and to some degree still are going through. This book let's you see how life probably was for teenage kids. There was a lot of racism before WWII, has always been racism in the USA towards non-whites--people forget that racism is not a recent thing, generations have lived in the USA knowing only racism towards them. It takes you through the removal orders, the heart break of people giving up sentimental things because they just could not be packed into the limited luggage they could carry; people being robbed by mostly whites who took advantage of the people's need to "get rid" of cars, furniture, applicances, antiques, things of great value for a pittance. Takes you through what is must have felt like to have to leave your home because the gov't declared you have to leave, to move to horse stalls and other less-than-human places because the relocating of hundreds of thousands of people was all so last minute, haphazard and insufficiently planned for, Then not knowing where they were taking you via bus/train, finding yourself in some god forsakes dusty, treeless, barren place and having to live with a whole lot of strangers. All of this knowing you and yours had done NOTHING bad, nothing wrong. Her characters cover the love-hate of America--your country that you have always loved and thought of as home is doing this to you without a trial, without any logical reason. She covers the loss of the family unit lead by the father who no one contradicted up until the camps. Covers that frail relationship between boys and girls as they pass through puberty into adolescence. And she even covers the forced "leaving camp" too, how terrifying it was to know you'd go back to even more racism if you returned to your West Coast home, but do you completely reset your life in some more easterly place where you know no one, where even the weather is unfamiliar? She covers the sacrifices of the 442nd. And I cried; not wailed but could not stop the tears from leaking out because of what these young men went through just to prove they were good Americans, just to bring a little honor to their families and people, only to come home to concentrations camps and then hate outside the camps. This is what I have been looking for in my reading about my people. The average, every day life of what it must have been like. My mom is 95 now and really tired of all the hate and having to struggle just to live a life in America simply because she still looks non-white. My family has been living in America for over 100 years now and I still get that "go back to China" crap, still get that "my, you talk English so well!" (And, sic, btw.) This book ought to be mandatory reading in all USA high schools--we don't need Candide and Hamlet and Macbeth, sorry but none of those books have ANYTHING to do with life in America and are too distant to be relatable. This book should be read.