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Browse > Theme > Coming of age

78 articles

Under the Blood Red Sun (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8
  • Historical Fiction, Young Adult
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Growing up – pain or pleasure, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Acclaimed novel for young adults set in the early months of World War II told through the eyes of a teenage Nisei protagonist in Honolulu whose father and grandfather are both interned. The novel was made into a feature film in 2014. It was followed by a sequel, House of the Red Fish , in 2006.

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A Flicker in Eternity (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Short
  • War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Loss of innocence, Coming of age
  • Widely available

A short documentary film from 2013 by Sharon Yamato and Ann Kaneko about the experiences of a young Nisei named Stanley Hayami , based on his diary and letters. A Nisei teenager incarcerated with his family during World War II at Heart Mountain , Hayami kept a diary documenting his life and thoughts in camp and subsequently as a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team until his death while in combat in Europe just days before Germany surrendered. Filmmakers Yamato and Kaneko tell the story largely in Hayami's own words, voiced by actor Aaron Yoo, as well as those of his older sister Sach, voiced by Amy Hill. The film includes archival photographs and footage and aspiring artist Hayami's own drawings from his diary, often in animated form. The DVD release of the film included interview footage with Hayami family members including Stanley's sister-in-law Miwako Hayami, niece Dawn Hayami, …

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Silent Honor (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Romance
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Loss of innocence, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Novel by bestselling author Danielle Steel about a Japanese American family in the San Francisco Bay Area and their wartime odyssey in American concentration camps, highlighting a romance between a niece recently arrived from Japan and a white college professor.

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Snow Falling on Cedars (book)

  • Books
  • Historical fiction
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Desire to escape, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Fear of other, Immigrant experience, Importance of community, individual versus society, Power of the past
  • Available

A World War II veteran reporting for his small town newspaper covers the trial of a local Japanese American man charged with murder while he struggles with his complicated feelings for the defendant's wife, his first love.

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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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My Life with a Thousand Characters (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Expression through art, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

The creator of numerous Hanna-Barbera characters including those from Scooby Doo tells his life story, including his childhood as a Nisei in Los Angeles and his experience incarcerated at Manzanar concentration camp.

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A Diamond in the Desert (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Forgiveness, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Novel for children centering on Tetsuo Kishi, a teenager at the Gila River , Arizona, concentration camp who finds solace in baseball.

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I'll Remember April (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Coming of age, Loss of innocence, Fear of other
  • Available

Dramatic film directed by Bob Clark and written by Mark Sanderson set in April 1942 about four young boys who discover a Japanese sailor. One of the boys is Japanese American, and he and his family also prepare for their imminent forced removal and incarceration. Pat Morita plays the boy's grandfather.

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The Crystal City Story: One Family's Experience with the World War II Japanese Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Reunion
  • Available

Self-published memoir by Tomo Izumi about her family's internment in the Crystal City, Texas , internment camp and her life before and after the war in a small plantation town on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

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Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Role of women
  • Widely available

Children's novel aimed at ages 8 to 11 by Sandra Dallas centering on the wartime incarceration experience of the Itano family at the Tallgrass, Colorado, camp, featuring as its protagonist twelve year old Tomi Itano. The book is a sequel of sorts to Dallas' adult novel, Tallgrass (2007).

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

  • 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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America's Betrayal (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Fiction, History
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Everlasting love, Evils of racism, Female roles, Losing hope, Will to survive
  • Limited availability

Young adult novel by Jodi Icenoggle written in the first person voice of Margaret Yamaguchi, a high school sophomore and aspiring writer in Valle Verde in coastal California. Her father runs a successful orchard and oversees a happy family that includes Margaret's mother, an older brother Robert, and younger brother Timmy. She has also started going steady with John Wilson, star athlete of Valle Verde High. But her happy life is slowly torn apart by the outbreak of war. As anti-Japanese sentiment rises after the attack on Pearl Harbor, so do tensions at the high school, particularly for an interracial couple like John and Margaret. Inevitably, the Yamaguchis get sent first to the Salinas Assembly Center , then to Poston , while John gets drafted. As family tragedies ensue, Margaret comes of age in the concentration camp, starting a camp newspaper and waiting for John to come back. But will …

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Gambling Den (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Immigrant experience, Loss of innocence, Role of women, Temptation and destruction
  • No availability

Short story by Akemi Kikumura about a Japanese American family in Lodi, California, on the eve of World War II. Told in the first person voice of fifteen-year-old Peggy Tanaka, the story begins with the Tanaka family's fateful purchase of a restaurant in 1941. The restaurant soon becomes a success as migrant workers are drawn to both Mrs. Tanaka's cooking and the beauty of Ann, Peggy's eighteen-year-old sister. Mr. Tanaka's decision to open a gambling den in back further adds to profits, despite Mrs. Tanaka's disapproval and the necessary kick-backs to a corrupt local policeman. But the Tanakas' lives are soon to be complicated by Ann's romance with a young man of burakumin (Japanese outcaste) origin, a conniving neighbor, and the impending roundup of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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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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Camp Nine (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Evils of racism, Power of wealth, Role of women
  • Available

Coming of age novel set in and around "Camp Nine," a fictionalized Japanese American concentration camp based on Rohwer , narrated by a girl from a prominent white family in the adjacent town whose life is transformed by the camp.

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Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

Memoir of a young Nisei woman who was born in the Minidoka , Idaho, concentration camp. The story focuses on her often strained relationships with her parents, grandparents, and eight siblings in 1950s Chicago.

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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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This Time Will Be Different (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Young Adult, History
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Coming of age, Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Acclaimed coming of age novel by Misa Sugiura that explores the continuing impact and relevance of Japanese American incarceration.

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Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings (book)

  • Books
  • Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir, Poetry
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Wisdom of experience, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Memoir by Nisei playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi (1922–2019) told in short prose vignettes, poetry and a play.

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House of the Red Fish (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Historical Fiction, Young Adult
  • Coming of age, Empowerment, Good versus bad, Importance of community
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Graham Salisbury about a Nisei teenager in wartime Honolulu who struggles to bring up the sunken fishing boat of his interned father. It is a sequel to the popular 1994 novel Under the Blood-Red Sun .

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Farewell to Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Popular memoir that tells the story of one family's forced removal and confinement at Manzanar through the eyes of a young girl. First published in 1973, Farewell to Manzanar has sold over one million copies and is one of the most widely read accounts of Japanese American incarceration and its aftermath.

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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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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 Louisa 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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Good Luck Soup (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Coming of age, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Importance of community, Individual versus society, Power of tradition
  • Widely available

Autobiographical documentary film by Matthew Hashiguchi that explores his and his family's experience growing up as mixed-race Japanese Americans in Cleveland, Ohio. Hashiguchi draws inspiration from his Nisei grandmother and family matriarch Eva Hashiguchi, who settled in Cleveland after leaving the Jerome , Arkansas, concentration camp during World War II and chose to remain there. In addition to the feature length film, the Good Luck Soup project also includes an interactive website that serves as an "participatory storytelling" platform.

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We Are Not Free (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Facing darkness, Importance of community
  • Widely available

Young adult novel by Traci Chee that tells the wartime incarceration story through the eyes of a group of teenage friends from San Francisco.

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