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Browse > Theme > Identity crisis

17 articles

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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Four-Four-Two (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Historical fiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Displacement, Forgiveness, Identity crisis
  • Available

A popular and confident Nisei boy and his best friend enlist in the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team and are thrown into the horrific reality of combat in Europe.

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Private Life (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Identity crisis, Female roles, Disillusionment and dreams
  • Available

A middle-aged white woman recounts her friendship with a Japanese American family she first meets through personal tragedy; the injustice they experience, partly as a result of her own husband, leads her to a personal awakening.

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By the Hands of a Working Man: A Japanese Background, a Mexican Childhood, an American Life (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Displacement, Forgiveness, Identity crisis
  • Available

Nisei landscape architect shares his life story, from his childhood in Mexico to his years working in Los Angeles-area nurseries to his wartime experiences in Manzanar and Illinois.

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Dear Miye: Letters Home from Japan, 1939-1946 (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir, Historical nonfiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Desire to escape, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Female roles, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Isolation, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Self-preservation, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Will to survive
  • Available

A collection of letters written by a young Nisei woman in Japan who becomes stuck there during World War II to her best friend who is still in California.

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When You're Smiling: The Deadly Legacy of Internment (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Power of the past
  • Available

Autobiographical film by Janice D. Tanaka about growing up Sansei in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s amidst parental silence about their wartime incarceration. It was one of several films about aspects of the incarceration funded by the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.

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Betrayed Trust: The Story of a Deported Issei and His American-Born Family During World War II (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Heartbreak of betrayal, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Losing hope
  • Available

A Nisei shares his family's heart-wrenching experience of wartime incarceration and the complex background behind their decision to go to Japan instead of staying in the U.S. after the end of the war.

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Kim/Kimi (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 6-8
  • Children's, Young Adult
  • Coming of age, Identity crisis, Quest for discovery
  • Widely available

Kim/Kimi (1987) by Hadley Irwin explores one teen's quest to discover herself by finding out about her father's past. Kimi Yogushi, who is more commonly known as Kim Anderson, has an Irish American mother. Kim's father Kenji, who had died before she was born, was Japanese American. Sixteen-year-old Kim happily lives with her family in an all-white community in Iowa but she begins to want to know more about the Japanese American part of her identity. Her mother finally tells Kim that Kenji had been disowned by his family for marrying outside his race.

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American in Disguise (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Identity crisis, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

American in Disguise is Daniel Okimoto's account of his search for identity in America and Japan. The book was originally published in 1971 by John Weatherhill, Inc, with a foreword by James Michener.

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American Scrapbook (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical fiction
  • Identity crisis, Family
  • Widely available

Novel set in Manzanar and Tule Lake by prolific writer Jerome Charyn and published in 1969.

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A Stone Cried Out: The True Story of Simple Faith in Difficult Days

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Faith versus doubt, Forgiveness, Identity crisis, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

A Christian minister reflects on his life, including the difficult years he and his family spent in wartime concentration camps.

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California Generation (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Identity crisis
  • Limited availability

Popular 1970 novel by Jacqueline Briskin that follows a group of students from the class of 1960 at fictitious California High—one of them a Sansei born in Topaz—through the touchstone events of the turbulent decade. Though a first novel, California Generation was widely promoted and launched Briskin's career as a best-selling novelist.

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Kibei (book)

  • Books
  • Historical Fiction
  • Change versus tradition, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Identity crisis
  • Available

The saga of a Kibei Nisei confronting prejudice and his own conflicted identity as his and his family’s lives are irreparably transformed by the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japanese-American Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Historical fiction, Children's
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Identity crisis
  • Available

A Japanese American boy is forcibly removed from his home in Southern California and incarcerated in a concentration camp but learns important life lessons through continuing to play baseball.

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Missing in Action (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Historical fiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Displacement, Forgiveness, Identity crisis
  • Available

A part-Navajo teenager moves with his mother to her hometown of Delta, Utah, and his struggle to find his own identity is aided by his friendship with Ken, a Japanese American teenager, who refuses to allow his family's incarceration at nearby Topaz defeat his spirit.

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To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Importance of community, Love and sacrifice
  • Widely available

Famous actor and celebrity recounts some of the most important periods of his life, including his early childhood spent at Rohwer and Tule Lake concentration camps.

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A Teacher's Resource for Farewell to Manzanar (curricula)

  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-9, Grades 9-12
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Injustice
  • Widely available

This study guide developed in 1999 by Facing History and Ourselves with Voices of Love and Freedom is part of the "Witness to History" series that examines a literary work confronting the complexity of history particularly around issues of prejudice and discrimination. It is based on the 1973 edition of Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. In this memoir, Wakatsuki Houston traces her family experiences during World War II, when because of their Japanese ancestry, they are incarcerated at Manzanar, a concentration camp in the California desert.

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