The story begins shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the setting is California. Sumiko is a young American of Japanese descent who lives with her younger brother, her aunt, uncle, grandfather, and cousins on a flower farm that they run.
Kadohata showed the loneliness that Sumiko feels as she come to realize that she is the other. The scene with the birthday party was heartrending. Sumiko is a responsible girl who is willing to work hard and be be helpful. The feelings of being shunned by their community and country, of being scared nearly to death of the government and the authorities is well portrayed. Everything that was taken from Japanese Americans is well expressed. The change in the family dynamic is also well illustrated. They went from a multi-generational nuclear family, to one that was torn apart with members of the family ending up in different camps. She shows well what happens to the family dinner hour and the discipline of the children.
The interment camp that Sumiko's family is sent to is in Arizona on Mohave Indian Reservation and was called Poston. By reading this book, I learned about the relationship that the US Government forced onto the American Indians. They didn't want this camp on their land. I also learned that in Arizona, American Indians were not allowed to vote until 1948. I love books that teach me things I didn't know before.
Kadohota shows how the prisoners suffered from depression "the ultimate boredom" and how important it is for our lives to have purpose and goals.
This book shows the danger of treating anyone as the other, and that if we will take the time to help and get to know each other, no one needs to be the other.
I will admit to buying this book for the cover. It is gorgeous and the story is good.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit.