More About the Author
Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was 80 years old when her first book was published in April 2005. With her memoir, "Looking Like the Enemy," Gruenewald has broken her silence as a Nisei (second generation Japanese American) who was imprisoned in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. David Guterson, author of "Snow Falling on Cedars," describes Gruenewald's memoir as "a painfully honest narrative of imprisonment. a valuable contribution to the literature of Japanese-American internment."
This memoir is used in university, college, and advanced high school classes. In Fall 2010, a Young Reader's edition of "Looking Like the Enemy" will be available for readers in grades 5 through 8. Mary speaks to educational, library, and community groups regularly about her internment during World War II. She also traveled to Japan after the publication of her book and spoke to many different Japanese groups about this difficult chapter in American history.
Mary's vision is to share her story with as many people as possible in hopes that internment camps will never happen again in the United States. She also wants people to understand how harmful it can be to judge someone simply by the way they look. Mary's articles regarding her internment during WW II have appeared in newspapers and magazines, and she has presented commentaries for NPR KPLU. She also consulted with the National Park Service during its establishment of Minidoka Internment Camp as a National Park. Mary received an Asian American Living Pioneer Award in 2003 honoring her contributions.
After being released from her last Japanese-American internment camp, Mary became a registered nurse, and worked as an R.N. for more than a quarter of a century. She established the Consulting Nurse Service within the Group Health Cooperative in 1971, which has become a national model for numerous health care providers. In 2002, she was a medical delegate representing seniors on behalf of Medicare Plus Choice. At that meeting, Mary was selected along with ten other delegates to advise President George W. Bush on health care issues.
Presently, Mary is writing a book on being in her 80s and the wisdom she has gained from a long life, well lived! Mary meets weekly with a Seattle writing class where she continues to hone her skills as a writer. Brenda Peterson has been Mary's teacher for more than a decade. Peterson's latest book is a memoir, "I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth."
In the course of working on "Looking Like the Enemy," Peterson gave Mary an unusual and special assignment: Find a Japanese doll similar to the one you and your family burned along with your other Japanese treasures in 1942, fearful of an F.B.I. search. Mary found a special doll and perched it near her writing desk as she finished her memoir---a reminder of what she endured and lost during the war years.