Stubborn twig : three generations in the life of a Japanese American family

by Lauren Kessler

Hardcover, 1993




New York : Random House, c1993.


Stubborn Twig is the story of one Japanese American family's century-long struggle to adjust, endure and ultimately triumph in their new country. Masuo Yasui arrived in America in 1903 with big dreams and empty pockets. He worked on the railroads, in a cannery and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, to open a store, raise a large family and become one of the area's most successful orchardists. As Masuo tried to break the color barrier in the community, his American-born children also strived to overcome it in school, Scouts and sports by excelling in almost everything they took on. But none of their accomplishments could shield them from the intense racism that pervaded much of the West Coast. For the Yasuis' firstborn son, the constraints and contradictions of being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters steadfastly pursued the American dream, with one of.Masuo's sons becoming Oregon's first Japanese American lawyer and two others becoming surgeons. December 7, 1941, changed the Yasuis' lives completely and forever. Following Pearl Harbor, all West Coast ethnic Japanese, most of whom were U.S. citizens, were forced from their homes with only what they could carry and interned in vast inland "relocation camps." Shamed and broken, Masuo eventually took his own life. But the family endured. Today, while many members of the.third generation have made their mark in various professions, some are still searching for their place in American society. The Yasui family freely opened its records and its memories to Lauren Kessler, who has written a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and surpasses the drama of fiction. Stubborn Twig is a moving saga about not only the promise but also the perils of America and the meaning of becoming and being an American.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member blisssu
This well-written book kept me fascinated throughout the story of Masuo Yasui, who came from Japan in the early 20th century to settle in the fertile Hood River Valley of Oregon, the woman he sent for from Japan to become his wife, and the large family they raised in Hood River. As one of the few English speakers in the growing Japanese community, Yasui became an indispensible facilitator and contributor to the life of Hood River, where his general store was a center of community activity and the only nearby source for necessities imported from the homeland. Yasui was also a successful orchardist and real estate broker--he contributed his time and talents abundantly to the Japanese people of Hood River while earning the admiration of many in the white community. All this changed with World War II and the book recounts the tragedy of Yasui, his wife, and many of his offspring being detained in federal camps for the war's duration. It is ugly to see how whites, once friendly, became hateful to their Japanese neighbors, and how the effects of this bad treatment changed the course of the Yasuis' lives. By following the generations of Yasuis up to today, Lauren Kessler presents a thorough and compelling portrait of a family that has survived with dignity even in the face of terrible injustice.… (more)
LibraryThing member sonjastarfish
Very worthy and informative, this was the Oregon Reads book in 2009 in conjunction with the state's 150th anniversary. The difficult subject matter of racism and the Japanese American internment generated interesting discussion throughout the state.


Local notes

inscribed by the author



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