Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family was everything I hoped it would be and then some. It is a book that needed to be written as it is a story that needed to be told.
I am a history buff. I’m so much of one that I’m actually going back to school to get a bachelors in history (I hope to have this completed in the next year or so). I read about the past for fun. To me, the past explains who we are, how far we’ve come and gives a bit of direction for the future if in no other way than through hints. History is a powerful story because it defines who we are and what we can accomplish. To me, it is not “dry” subject matter but it truly lives. When I read about people’s struggles and triumphs in the past I am inspired and spurred on to live my life in a more driven, focused and enthusiastic manner. Given my predisposed disposition, I knew this book, describing the life of Japanese immigrants who came to American to find a home, was going to be amazing. It was!
This book details the story of one family, the Yasui family, who are headed by Masuo Yasuia, a man who traveled to America from Japan back in 1903. He came to America to build a better life for himself and his future family. Eventually settling in Mt. Hood, Oregon, he grew to be a successful businessman and leader in the Japanese community. The story takes us from the years of toil and struggle, describes the family and the general unease of the Mt. Hood community towards these “foreigners” and brings us up to World War II. Before reading this book I knew that the bombing on Pearl Harbor caused Americans to “freak out” (so to speak) and that there was quite a bit of racial profiling wherein Japanese-Americans were concerned. I knew that there were camps in which Japanese-Americans were detained on fear of their being spies for their former country. I did not know the extent of this imprisonment, some of which rather resembled Nazi war camps for Jews. The pictures that author Lauren Kessler painted to describe what the Japanese-Americans went through, and the shame that they felt brought tears to my eyes. I felt this book. It was impossible not to.
I could make this review really, really long. Really long. This book prompted a lot of thoughts and forced me to re-examine my own heart and mind. I’m GLAD to know this part of American history and to learn more about the people who have helped to build this great country of ours and who have shaped and molded it from infancy to the present. It’s just astounding to think of what some people have suffered for the sake of a dream.
This is a great book, not because I agreed with every single point (I think Kessler was a bit judgemental in some of her own accusations against people unlike herself which is sort of ironic, considering.) but because it forced thought and evaluation and prompted appreciation for the past. Not just the Japanese-American past. But MY past. Because, as Americans, we share a history and this is another piece of it.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.