Farewell to Manzanar a true story of Japanese American experience during and after the World War II internment

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Other authorsJames D. Houston (Author)
Paperback, 1973

Status

Available

Publication

Toronto ; New York : Bantam Books 1986 ], c1973.

Description

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston relates her experiences of living at the Manzanar internment camp during World War II and how it has influenced her life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member DubaiReader
Brushed under the carpet?

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and America and Japan were at war, a problem arose as to what to do with the thousands of naturalised Japanese living in the States. They couldn't be returned to Japan but nor could they be left to live freely within the US. The country's solution to the problem was to build huge internment camps in the American desert and ship everyone out there for the duration of the war. This was done very hastily and when 7 year old Jeanne and her family arrived they found only the most basic of provision. They lived in cramped "barracks" with foul toilet facilities and suffered repeated sickness due to insanitary food storage.
Conditions improved during their stay; schooling was provided and recreational facilities, classes to keep internees occupied, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts etc.
Eventually, when the whole enterprise was ruled illegal by American legislation, many of the internees did not want to leave. They had heard tales of Japanese "on the outside" receiving abuse from Americans for their country's part in the war, even though many Japanese chose to prove their loyalty by fighting for America in the armed forces.
They had become so conditioned to life in the camps that they could not envisage starting up again elsewhere.
The younger members of Jeanne's family left to make a way for themselves but her parents, herself and her brother stayed until the last moment - when Jeanne's father saved face by leaving with a flourish!

The book is an interesting comment on the effects of this loss of freedom on the Japanese culture, particularly its effect on her father's pride. It's a short little book but says all that is needed within its concise 145 pages.
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LibraryThing member MerryMary
An insider's look at a shameful piece of our past.
LibraryThing member athenamilis
I decided to read this book because it is a supplemental novel at the tenth grade level at my school. That means, that if we choose to, we can use this book in our curriculum. It is a favorite of many of the teachers on my campus. The story describes the life of a Japanese-American family from the beginning of Japanese Internment to a trip back to their internment camp----Manzanar---years later by the narrator in the story the youngest daughter. I found the novel easy to read and understand. I can see why teachers would use it with students. There are many ways to connect to themes of civil rights, racism, and California history. I feel that English Language Learners would also benefit from a novel they may be able to connect to. I do not feel the book has any weaknesses. I will teach this book next year as everyone in this country needs to remember what happened to prevent it or things like it from happening again.… (more)
LibraryThing member fredanria
A good book; my mom bought this for me when I was in third or fourth grade, and insisted I read it. At the time, I didn't understand most of what was going on, and so the book was boring.
In seventh grade, I reread it, and was surprised to find that it wasn't a bad book. My favorite part was most certainly the chapter that was an interview with her father. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes biographies/autobiographies.… (more)
LibraryThing member iecj
A Japaneese American family is forced to leave their home and move to an internment camp "for their protection". The family begins to become less and less of a unit and basically begins to live seperate lives as they adjust to life in the camp. Jeanne, one of te youngest children, tells of her familie's life before, during, and after the camps. Families were forced to sell most of their possessions for little or nothing and arrived at camps that were not equiped to house familes. The transitions from neighhood to camp and camp to neighborhood were tremendously difficult. This book is appropriate for middle school readers and above.… (more)
LibraryThing member ithilwyn
Straitforward memoir of the events that led up to Japanese internment during WWII as well as the author's experiences in one of the camps. She also deals with both the short term and long term effects of the internment and the pervasive racism that attempted to excuse it.
LibraryThing member HHS-Students
Reviewed by: Matt (Class of 2013)

Egad, is a hook! This is a film, but "Farewell to Manzanar" is a book and what this review is about. It’s a book about Japanese Americans in an internment camp. It starts in 1941, just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, in a fishing community near San Pedro, California. The story follows Jeanne Wakatsuki and the Wakatsuki family.

Jeanne is a Nisei, which means that she’s the child of Japanese immigrants. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, her father, a fisherman, because that’s what all Japanese people do, is arrested by the FBI. Not long after though, the rest of the family is taken to a Manzanar War Relocation Center.

At the camp Jeanne finds solace in the local nuns a mile from the barracks, while the elder members of the family take up small jobs around the camp. Jeanne succumbs to sun stroke in the hundred degree temperatures of the desert one day and is on bed rest for days. Her dad returns from a North Dakota prison in late 1942, almost a year after his imprisonment.

At his return he is deeply depressed. The other prisoners call him a dog because they assume that he informed on Japan to earn his freedom. He becomes an alcoholic, and almost hits his wife, but is stopped by his youngest son, Kiyo.

An event called ‘The December Riot’ occurs sometime between 1943 and 1944, when three prisoners are arrested for beating a man they consider to be a traitor. It ends with the guards fatally shooting two, and wounding ten others.

The end section of the book details Jeanne’s life and school experience, but it’s incongruous with the rest of the book, so it confused me. It’s something like how she becomes best friends with a white girl, but later on they drift apart and how the teachers plot to stop her from becoming what sounded like homecoming queen, but she wins anyway.

The family goes through a series of ups and downs, but is eventually okay. That’s it. It’s a short book at only 170 pages or so. I thought it only appropriate that a review be short as well. I didn’t really enjoy the book. It feels long and it’s dull, but then again I’m emotionally jaded. There’s not much else that I can say. The book is an autobiography by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, so I guess I could have just read an about the author section and got the same experience, but whatever. She was born in 1934 in Inglewood, California, and she wrote two or three other books that weren’t as popular. The end is nigh.
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LibraryThing member BookWallah
Haunting first person narrative of Japanese American girl caught up in the internment during World War II. “Farewell to Manzanar” deftly deals with racism and internal clashes the second generation of Japanese people in USA experienced. Recommended for anyone who does not believe in racism.
LibraryThing member sosandra
Farewell to Manzanar is the autobiography of a Japanese-American girl, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, who survived the internment camp during World War II. Houston’s book chronicles her life from the moment her father is captured to the aftermath of the internment camps. It discloses the hardships that Jeanne and her family undergo in the camp as well as the struggles that her family faces to conform to the American way of life after the camp.
Farewell to Manzanar is honest and brutal about the difficulties of a seven-year-old transitioning through her home to camps in addition to her parents’ attachment to their Japanese culture and heritage. Out of all of this, Houston is resilient to the forced detention and breaks various barriers- cultural and emotional. She defies her father’s wish and is the first person in her family to marry outside of the Japanese community. One of the reason this book will benefit middle schoolers as they learn about the Japanese internment camps is because it depicts the obstacles of a American-born Japanese whose citizenship is to the United States and in the end, overcomes the hardships through a resistant personality.
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LibraryThing member srfbluemama
This is a book everyone should read at least once in their lives. The Japanese Internment experience is one that should not be forgotten, and this memoir does a great job of illustrating what it was like.
LibraryThing member guttaxbaby
This is a story of a Japanese American girl told through her eyes. This book takes place in the 1940s during World War 2. This book reminds us of a tragic time in our countries history. A time when our country created Manzanar, a camp set up in the desserts of California. Manzanar was built to house thousands of Japanese-Americans who were forced to leave their homes and belongings. We used the camps to segregate the Japanese American people from the other citizens. This book outlines Jeanne forcible removal from her home and her life in Manzanar. Jeanne and her family lived in Manzanar for 3 years. This book is Jeanne's story of what happened in Manzanar.

This is a very engaging story; you do not want to stop reading. This book also has a very historical significance as well. It will open your eyes to injustices that have occurred in the past that you may not have been aware of. It is always very important to learn about these times in our past, so we can better understand them and use them to move forward. Also this is an inspirational book as well. It is encouraging to read of the perseverance that the Japanese Americans had. In reading this book you will feel what Jeanne feels and see what Jeanne sees.

I highly recommend this book for anyone! Especially those who have enjoyed other historical memoirs in the past. This book will give you a better understanding of the pure value of human life.
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LibraryThing member AuntieClio
Honestly, books about events like this make me burn with shame to be an American. Sadly, the story of the Wakatsuki family is just one of thousands sent to "internment" camps after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's slim memoir depicts how terrible it was to be Asian, Japanese, and female during WWII and after. This should be required reading.… (more)
LibraryThing member librarybrandy
Screening for an 8th-grade-appropriate title that's about the internment camps and isn't dull. I was sort of interested in this, but it reads very slowly and then I set it down and forgot I was reading it for a while, so it obviously didn't draw me back in. Which doesn't bode well for the 13-year-old attention span.… (more)
LibraryThing member ksimon
Author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston has succeeded in writing a book that is readable and worthwhile for any reader -- I would say ages 12 to adult. I wish I had been assigned this in school, for I did not learn about Japanese internment camps until much later, probably my senior year in high school. I'd be willing to venture that even many high school students don't learn much about this part of American history.

The author wisely avoids pathos and melodrama, which allows the situation to speak for itself, standing out in stark relief against the backdrop of a "normal" life outside the camp. She manages to show us the dissolution of a family, the struggle to find and maintain an identity in an artificially created city, populated by law, not by choice. These are bitter, difficult things and Wakatsuki Houston allows the impact to sneak up on the reader.

This is no finger-pointing, harshly worded attempt at implicating the reader and forcing an emotional response. Instead, it is a deeply personal account which leaves one to absorb its impact slowly, wanting to learn more, and wanting to know how we can stop this from happening again. More than once, we've since been on the brink of repeating these past mistakes, which makes this book a timely and important read.
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LibraryThing member yougotamber
I bought this book in the "classics" section of a used bookstore. I wouldn't classify this book as classic but it's still a very nice read. The characters are a bit shallow and it's hard to feel anything for them because of it. The story held me enough to want to read more but also kept me from 'loving' it. A solid book about a Japanese American family during WW2.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Interesting. And not heartbreaking. Of course our treatment of the people of Japanese heritage was reprehensible - but after all, Manzanar wasn't a concentration camp. This is much more than a story of the camp, it is a story of a family, and of two nations and their war. All in a relatively short read accessible to all readers from young teens through adult.

I particularly liked the father's response to an interrogation about his loyalty, whether it was to Japan or to the US. The examiner asks which nation the father would like to win, and is answered: When your mother and father are having a fight, do you want them to kill each other? Or do you just want them to stop fighting?"

The description attached to this edition is much more true to the book than the one on the back of the book, which is the one attached to the currently most popular edition, so I'm copying it below:

Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp. This is the true story of one spirited Japanese American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the U.S.

"
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LibraryThing member mahallett
a teen book. maybe this would be interesting if this was the first you'd heard of this government treatment.
LibraryThing member csoki637
A memoir of growing up Japanese before, during, and after WWII and of life in the internment camp Manzanar, 1942–45. The parts that stuck with me the most were where Houston shows how internment tore apart her family psychologically, especially destroying her father, and how deeply she internalized the racism of that decision of the U.S. government as a pre-teen and carried that message through the rest of her life.… (more)
LibraryThing member empress8411
Told from the viewpoint of Jeanne Wakatsuki, this covers her experience as a child in the Internment camps for Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. Jeanne left California at seven and spent over three years in the camps. Not only does she speak about the trip there, and life in the camps, but she speaks intimately about how being in the camps effected the rest of her life. This is what makes the book so powerful. Not only to we walk through the camps with her, but we walk through the camps after. Several times she states that her Father died in the camps, although he lived for twelve years after. This is a profound statement in that illustrated how the camps followed those imprisoned there long after the camps were reduced to rubble and dust. When I learned about this part of our history, we never spoke about life after, so this was the first time I understood the lasting effects of what our government did to our citizens. Given today’s particular social and political climate, this book is a vital read.… (more)
LibraryThing member MaryWysong
This is a very interesting topic and the book showed promise. I bought it in the gift shop when I toured Manzanar because I wanted to read a first hand, biographical account. That said, the writing is simply uninspired. It's an easy read and the information is historically valuable; however, the story was so dully written that I felt no connection to the characters. I'd rate this book more for its cultural value than its entertainment value.… (more)

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