Today I am very happy to introduce a book that is, so far, mostly flying under the radar. This is a wonderfully written memoir by a woman who slowly, gradually convinced her grandmother to share her past. And part of that past, the part that changed everything, was spent in a Japanese internment camp.
Obaachan met her husband in the internment camps, she lost her mother there, and had her first child. All during a time when she thought she would be attending college and moving forward with her life under very different circumstances. This story has a good chance of opening teen eyes to the effects of the Japanese internment.
GRANT, Kimi Cunningham. Silver Like Dust: One Family’s Story of America’s Japanese Internment. 325p. Pegasus. 2012. Tr $26.95. ISBN 978-1-60598-272-4. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Growing up as a Japanese American in rural Pennsylvania, Grant knew she was different from everyone else but never knew the complete story of her family’s history. Although she spent every summer in Florida with her grandmother, little was said about the years spent in a Wyoming internment camp. As an adult, Grant patiently extracted the family tales from Obaachan, hearing about her brothers who served in the American military, the house and belongings so carefully paid for that had to be left to a tenant, and the shame of being exiled from their community. The author weaves stories from the past with the present day and makes what could be a dark and depressing moment from American history a captivating life story. Readers hear firsthand from someone who lived through a crucial moment in our history, and the memories she holds dear. Obaachan relates the story of her life with honesty and modesty. She was just 20 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and attitudes toward Japanese in America started to change. She had been accepted at college and was excited to start a new chapter of her life. However, her life, like 112,000 others, was forced to take a very different path. For further reading, suggest Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience (Heyday, 2000), edited by Lawson Fusaso Inada. Told with clarity and a storyteller’s sense of style, Silver Like Dust paints a portrait of one family’s harrowing experiences during a war that for many is a patriotic remembrance.–Sara Campbell, Rowan Public Library, Salisbury, NC