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Browse > Theme > Family – blessing or curse

53 articles

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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Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles . Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd , he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the …

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Dandelion Through the Crack/Kiyo's Story (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Memoir by a Nisei woman of farm life in Sacramento, her family's wartime incarceration, and their struggles to reestablish their lives after the war.

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Act of Faith: The Rev. Emery Andrews Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Love and sacrifice
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Rev. Emery Andrews , a Baptist priest who went beyond the call of duty to aid Japanese Americans from Seattle incarcerated at the Minidoka , Idaho, concentration camp.

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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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In Search of Hiroshi (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Power of the past
  • Available

Memoir by Nisei journalist Gene Oishi published by Charles E. Tuttle in 1988.

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Reluctant Samurai: Memoirs of an Urban Planner (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Fulfillment, Importance of community, Progress – real or illusion
  • Limited availability

Memoir by a Nisei man that recounts his agricultural upbringing, his time in American concentration camps, and his postwar career as an urban planner who was a key figure in the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles.

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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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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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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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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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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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An American Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Working class struggles
  • Available

Short story by Alice Nash centering on an elderly Issei woman in contemporary New York. As she struggles to carry a bag of rice home to her apartment, she reflects on her arrival in New York with her late husband after leaving the concentration camp and the kind Yamaguchi family who put them up while refusing to take money from them. They eventually opened a cleaning shop that helped pay for their only son's college education. A successful businessman in California, the son takes her on a trip every year, but largely keeps her away from her grandchildren due to his white wife's discomfort with her. When she gets back to her apartment, the family of the building's supervisor, the Gonzalez family, invites her to their home to help decorate their Christmas tree.

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One-Two-One-Seven (film)

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

Documentary film by Brett Kodama about the experiences of his grandmother, Sharon Shizuko Okazaki Kodama, at Manzanar . Just three years old when she and her family were forcibly removed from their Southern California home and sent to Manzanar, Okazaki Kodama's Issei father killed her Kibei mother in September 1942. She and her older sister spent the rest of the war at the Manzanar Children's Village , the camp orphanage. They were raised after the war by an aunt and uncle in Washington state. Okazaki Kodama recalls her memories of the camp and the orphanage, talks about her parents' deaths and reflects on the impact on the incarceration over visuals that include archival photographs and footage, photographs from her own family album, and images of the Manzanar National Historic Site today. The title refers to the Okazaki's family number at Manzanar.

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Family Gathering (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Quest for discovery, Self-awareness
  • Available

Documentary film by Lise Yasui that chronicles her exploration of her family's hidden history—especially that of her paternal grandfather, Masuo Yasui —through interviews and family home movies and photographs. One of the most acclaimed films about the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, Family Gathering was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988.

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Memories of Pop (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Forgiveness
  • No availability

Short story by Jiro Saito about a young college dropout Sansei returning home to San Diego for the funeral of his estranged father. Written in the first person voice of Mas Mayeda, it is set in around 1960. As the story begins, Mas gets a call from his sister Rose informing him of their father's death. Disowned by his father after dropping out of UC Berkeley's engineering program to become a writer, Mas had not seen the family in three years. Upon his return, Rose tells him that their father, though stubborn, indicated that he wanted Mas to return. Before the funeral, Mas sees old family photos that tell their story: his parents' wedding in 1927 (his Issei father married a Nisei woman from San Diego); a successful farm; his father becoming a community leader; his father's subsequent arrest after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the family's removal and …

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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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No-No Boy (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Role of men
  • No availability

2010 play by Ken Narasaki based on John Okada's classic 1957 novel . While the play largely followed the plot of the novel, the decision to change the ending to a "happy" one proved controversial.

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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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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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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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The Sakai Family of Bainbridge Island (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Necessity of work, Reunion, Role of women
  • Limited availability

Documentary film on the Sakai family, longtime residents of Bainbridge Island, Washington , based primarily on an interview with Kazuko "Kay" Sakei Nakao.

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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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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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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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