American Dreams (book)
Creators: Lisa Banim
Book cover. Courtesy of Silver Moon Press
View in the Densho Encyclopedia
Chapter book for children about two eleven-year-old girls in Hollywood, one white and one Japanese American, in the weeks just before and just after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Protagonist Jeannie Bosold and her best friend Amy Mochida live in Hollywood and enjoy going to the movies whenever they can and talking about their favorite movie stars. Amy's mother works as a live-in servant and seamstress to a Marianna Morgan, a Hollywood star, and the girls get to visit the studio and help out at a Hollywood party at the house. They learn to avoid Mr. Whick, Marianna's bigoted studio boss. While Jeannie's father is initially prejudiced against Japanese Americans, he becomes more sympathetic when her mother points out that his family's roots are in Germany. Amy happens to be staying with the Bosolds when the attack on Pearl Harbor takes place. When Mr. Bosold takes her home, they learn that Mr. Whick has fired Amy's mother and that they will be moving in with her grandmother in Little Tokyo. Determined to help them, Jeannie goes to Marianna's house to ask her to hire Mrs. Mochida back. She overhears her arguing with Mr. Whick about the firing of her Japanese American employees. Later, she tells Jeannie that she will hire Mrs. Mochida back and gives Jeannie a autographed picture of Clark Gable for Amy. When Jeannie goes to Little Tokyo to give her the picture, she finds the Mochidas and the rest of Little Tokyo packing up to be forcibly removed the next day. The girls say goodbye not knowing when they will see each other again. A brief epilogue summarizes the rest of the story, from the " assembly centers " to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 .
Since the action in the story takes place in the weeks prior to the roundup of Japanese Americans in the spring of 1942, there is little detail provided on that experience or on the subsequent incarceration. What is presented is generally accurate. While the main characters all all fictional real movie stars and Hollywood films of the time appear in the book.
Might also like Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida; Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata; Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference by Joanne Oppenheim