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Browse > Theme > Family – blessing or curse

55 articles

The Harvest of Hate (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Loss of innocence, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Novel focusing on one Japanese American family's forced removal and incarceration written by a former teacher at Poston . Originally written in 1946, The Harvest of Hate first saw publication forty years later.

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Why She Left Us (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Motherhood, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

A 1999 novel by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto that follows the Okada family from the 1920s to the 1990s and includes their incarceration at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and Amache as well as the experiences of two Nisei who serve in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team . The novel is structured as a series of vignettes told from the points of view of four characters. Why She Left Us was honored with an American Book Award in 2000.

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Mitsugi's Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness, Love and sacrifice, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Short story by Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida about Mitsugi Yamamoto, an elderly widower at the Keiro Retirement Home in Los Angeles who waits to hear from his busy lawyer daughter and his grandchildren on Christmas Day. Julia, a younger Yonsei volunteer nurse, keeps him company sometimes and listens to his stories of the past, particularly his time at Seabrook Farms, New Jersey , where he and his wife Sumi moved after leaving Manzanar .

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A Place to Belong (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Cynthia Kadohata that tells the story of a Japanese American family's experience in postwar Japan from the perspective of an adolescent female protagonist.

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Valley of the Heart (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Change versus tradition, Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Love and sacrifice, Patriotism – positive side or complications

Play by Luis Valdez centered on two farm families—one Japanese American and one Mexican American—in Cupertino, California, during World War II.

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The Ito Sisters (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Role of women
  • No availability

Documentary on three Nisei sisters from Central California who lived to see their beiju (88th birthday) celebration, exploring their lives to the end of World War II.

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The Floating World (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Acclaimed coming-of-age novel largely set on the road centering on Olivia Osaka and her itinerant family in the 1950s.

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Old Man River (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

One-woman play about the playwright's search for the truth about her actor father's life story. Jerry Fujikawa was a successful Nisei actor after World War II who worked steadily in character roles in movies and television and who did well enough to own a home and put three children through college. But after his death in 1983, playwright and performer Cynthia Gates Fujikawa found a picture of her father with a woman who is not her mother and a little girl who looks like her, but is not. Old Man River documents her search for her father's history, in which his wartime incarceration at Manzanar and stint in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team play a key role.

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Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Individual versus society
  • Available

Novel by Edward Miyakawa set in the eponymous concentration camp. Tule Lake was likely the first novel by a Japanese American set in one of the World War II concentration camps to be published when it first appeared in 1979. It was also notable for its unflinching portrayal of life in the most repressive of the camps.

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Old Man River (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Biography, History
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

Filmed version of Cynthia Gates Fujikawa's one-woman play of the same name about her search to unearth the secrets in the life of her father, actor Jerry Fujikawa. The play premiered in New York in 1997. Gates and documentary film director Allan Holzman filmed her performances during the run of the play in Los Angeles in early 1998. To try to recapture the effect of Fujikawa talking directly to the audience, Holzman positioned cameras on stage that she could talk into and added additional historic photographs and video. Premiering later in 1998, the film version went to play in various film festivals, community screenings and Days of Remembrance in succeeding years. The DVD version of the film also includes Fujikawa's 2003 documentary, Day of Remembrance .

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Gasa-Gasa Girl (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Family – blessing or curse, Greed as downfall, Power of the past
  • Widely available

The second mystery novel in Naomi Hirahara's "Mas Arai Mysteries" series, Gasa-Gasa Girl finds the Kibei crime solver in New York where he reconciles with his estranged daughter and unravels the mysterious death of a wealthy Nisei businessman.

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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Evils of racism, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Incarceration memoir of life at Pinedale Assembly Center , Tule Lake , and Minidoka , by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, a seventeen-year-old Nisei at the time of her and her family's forced removal from their Washington state farm. First published in 2005 by NewSage Press, it was followed by a young reader's edition in 2010.

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Farewell to Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Injustice, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Available

Made-for-television movie about a Japanese American family in Manzanar during World War II. Based on the book of the same name by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar aired nationally on NBC stations on March 11, 1976, and remains one of the few mainstream dramatic films centered on the Japanese American concentration camp experience.

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Suitcase Sefton and the American Dream (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Injustice
  • Widely available

Novel by Jay Feldman about a New York Yankees scout who discovers a hot Nisei pitching prospect in an American concentration camp during World War II.

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Seki-nin (Duty Bound) (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Convention and rebellion, Displacement, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Power of tradition
  • Available

Novel by George Nakagawa about a Nisei stranded in Japan during World War II.

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Sayonara Slam (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Power of silence, Power of the past, Family – blessing or curse
  • Widely available

The sixth book in Naomi Hirahara's Mas Arai Mysteries series finds the Kibei gardener caught up in unraveling the mysterious death of a Japanese journalist covering the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles. As in the other books in the series, Mas's Hiroshima hibakusha past and the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans play key roles in the plot.

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Painting the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Coming of age, Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Coming-of-age novel for young readers about two thirteen-year old cousins at a New England family summer retreat in 1965 who grapple with both their changing relationship and with the discovery of family secrets stemming from the World War II period that tangentially involve the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Who's Going to Pay for These Donuts, Anyway? (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Experimental documentary film by Janice Tanaka that centers on her finding and reuniting with a father and an uncle—one diagnosed as mentally ill and the other conventionally successful—neither of whom she had seen since childhood.

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"Wase Time!": A Teen's Memoir of Gila River Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Role of men
  • Limited availability

First person memoir by Kenneth A. Tashiro of his and his family's forced removal and incarceration at the Gila River , Arizona, concentration camp. After a brief introduction that introduces Tashiro's family, the story begins on Pearl Harbor day when Kenneth—nicknamed "Iggy"—hears about the start of the war after exiting an Abbott and Costello movie. He and his family move from Los Angeles to Del Rey in an attempt to avoid incarceration, but they are eventually removed from Sanger to Gila in August of 1942. His father, Kenji Tashiro, is a journalist, who becomes the editor of the camp newspaper , before leaving to join the army at age 37. His mother, eight months pregnant at the time of the removal, stays behind for a time, rejoining the family later with the baby girl. Twelve when he entered the camp, Tashiro's perspective is purely that of an active teenager, so …

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A Brother Is a Stranger (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Nationalism – complications, Power of tradition
  • Available

Memoir of a young Japanese immigrant/refugee Christian about his upbringing and travails in Japan, his journey to the U.S. and his wartime internment, and his postwar observations in Japan. Published in 1946 by the John Day Company, it was among the first books by a Japanese American to appear after the war.

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A Girl Like You (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Motherhood, Quest for discovery, Role of women
  • Available

Coming-of-age novel by Maureen Lindley that takes place largely in Manzanar and whose protagonist is a mixed-race Sansei girl.

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The Little Exile (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Immigrant experience
  • Available

Memoir by Jeanette A. Arakawa covering her wartime incarceration at the Stockton Assembly Center and Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp and postwar resettlement in Denver. Though written in the first person, her name and those of others in the book have been changed.

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The Brothers Murata (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Nationalism – complications, Rights - individual or societal, Role of men
  • Available

Novella by Toshio Mori about two brothers in Topaz who clash over the issue of military service. Likely written in Topaz, it was first published in the 2000 Mori anthology Unfinished Message: Selected Works of Toshio Mori .

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Beacon Hill Boys (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of tradition
  • Available

Novel for young adults by Ken Mochizuki about a Sansei teenager's quest for identity and meaning in 1972 Seattle.

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Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Coming of age, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • No availability

Play by Velina Hasu Houston that reimagines Louis May Alcott's 19th century novel Little Women , setting it in early postwar Los Angeles with four Japanese American sisters at its center.

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