- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Plume (November 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452273013
- ISBN-13: 978-0452273016
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family Paperback – November 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Kessler portrays a Japanese American family from the early 1900s to WWII internment camps and after.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-A factual account of three generations of a Japanese-American family living in the Pacific Northwest. It begins in 1903, when Masuo Yasui arrived in Hood River, Oregon, to seek his fortune. This part of the story is similar to other immigrants' tales-years of hard work, loneliness, and struggles with a new language and customs. The striking distinction appears around 1919, with the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment. Yasui, his brother, their wives, and children had sacrificed much to establish a thriving general store and owned several orchards. Yasui, who spoke fluent English, was the acknowledged leader of the Japanese community in the area and an active member of the orchardists' cooperatives, the Methodist Church, and the Rotary Club. His family continued to have great success despite discrimination. Their lives were painfully disrupted, however, on December 7, 1941. Yasui was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his relatives were scattered and some were interned. This book puts human faces and emotions to the events of that period. Readers learn how racism and internment continued to affect the choices and decisions of second-generation family members. Part sociological study, part American history, part family saga, this title will make a significant addition to any library.
Penny Stevens, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
This well-researched story of three generations of the Yasui family was of special interest to me because it parallels the time frame and journey of my own family's experience, though we were not as successful, and, therefore, didn't have as much to lose as the Yasui's.
Their saga begins in Japan in the late 1890's, and explains the reasons that first generation of issei emigrated to the U. S., the visa processes, the voyage across the Pacific in steerage. Each segment was fascinating to me because I imagined that my grandfathers underwent the same kind of process, and it filled in the many blanks in my family history.
My family also made its start in farming the Pacific Northwest and in Southern California. However, both branches lacked the drive and ambition of our protoganist Masuo Yasui who built up a mini empire in Hood Valley, Oregon - of apple and citrus farms, a local store, loan arrangements and multiple other businesses. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, his was the head that stuck out the most and, hence, got pummeled as mercilessly and irrationally as any whac-a-mole.
We learn that the racial paranoia and animus that rose at that time did not come from nowhere - it was part of the underlying atmosphere of fear and hate Asians experienced all along the west coast for decades. It was especially prevalent in Hood River.
Since my father hardly talked about his experiences in the internment camp at Gila River, I never knew (till reading this account of theYasui family) about the everyday insults and indignities that accompanied life for the first generations of Japanese and Chinese.
Masuo spent the whole war and even months afterwards in a prison on unproven charges of being a spy. (In fact, no evidence was ever found to prove that any internees were ever guilty of espionage.) He and his wife never returned to Hood River where his many properties were sold at basement prices just to pay loans and taxes, and where he had mistakenly thought he had gained the trust and friendship of his white neighbors over the many decades he and his family lived there. Though there were white neighbors and friends who stood by them, they, too, paid a price in threats and ostracism.
Masuo, his nisei children and their experiences take up the bulk of the book. The third generation sansei (of which I am a member) inhabits the last quarter of the book and is not nearly as compelling as they continue their transition as Japanese- Americans into the social and economic fabric of the U. S. The author has found the perfect family to represent the plight of the Japanese through three generations. Within its members, the Yasui family experiences success, persecution, rebellion, incarceration and ultimate realization of their quest to be Americans.
There are truly sad moments in this book where the clash between the old and new cultures have a terrible outcome. And where the realization that no matter how hard you may try, you are not going to fit in. It breaks your heart.
The book is definitely an historical accounting of the affect on one family---but I found it overly discriptive in a repetitive style and lacking those stories---even little glimpses of those who did not own stores, or orchards or went on to higher education. Guess that is what I hoped it would be. My book club is discussing it tomorrow night at my home and several have echoed my thoughts---should be an interesting discussion.