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Silver Like Dust: One Family's Story of America's Japanese Internment Paperback – 21 Mar 2014
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A portrait of a courageous woman who endured hardship and later established a delicate balance of trust with her granddaughter that allowed her to finally tell the family's story.
A remarkable book about life in a Japanese internment camp and the social and political forces that allowed their existence.
About the Author
Kimi Cunningham Grant is the 2009 recipient of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in creative nonfiction. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her family and is an instructor of English at Penn State University.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Because Obaachan is very private and has never spoken of these sad events in her life, Kimi has to be very careful and tread lightly when asking certain questions. Her Ojichan, the more approachable of her grandparents is long dead and not available to question. Therefore, she must gather her courage to approach Obaachan. Kimi wants to write a book not only for the purpose of recording her grandmother's experiences during such and important time in history, but to better know who her Obaachan really is. Thus begins the journey back in time to when Obachan was a young woman with dreams of attending college. Those dreams are shattered the moment news of the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor is reported. Obaachan's family, along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans, are herded out of the West coast and sent to live in concentration camps for the remainder of the war. Obaachan was just about to start college when the news arrives that they must leave everything behind and make the move to Heart Mountain, Wyoming. A place purposely chosen by the American government because of it's vast, desolate landscape and unforgiving winters.
Kimi wonders how her family, with Obaachan's ailing mother, withstood such harshness of conditions, being hated by the locals, and kept in the camps by stern, armed guards. Obachacn explains the mind set of "shikataganai", the belief that you must accept everything that happens to you without bitterness because you cannot change it. "You make the best out of your situation and you keep your head held high." I can imagine just how difficult this must have been for Kimi to accept, coming from a generation that is taught to question and protest injustices. But for Obaachan, "shikataganai" helped her hold on to her dignity and sense of self.
Most of this book are Obaachan's memories coupled with historical sources and Kimi's suppositions. There was much that Obaachan would not share due to maintaining her privacy leaving some parts of the story untold. For example, I would love to have known more about the American woman who requested to be imprisoned with her Japanese husband, or about the Japanese cross dresser, or the Japanese cowboy. The book left me a little unsatisfied, as did the abrupt ending. Still, it forms a purposeful addition to other books on this subject.
Overall, it tells an important story.
Many are not familiar with the Japanese interment during WW II and how our citizens of Japanese ancestry were treated.
The author's sensitivity to her grandmother's story and their relationship made the story profound for me
that we're affected, has helped me realize again that we Americans must not repeat this. An entire culture or ethnicity must not be blamed and punished for the acts of some members of that culture.
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