Tag Archive | Japanese American

When home’s safety is an illusion, what next? Read tales of escape & danger … with your ears!

From home, they cross desert lands,
from desert to home,
siblings travel in fear and hope.

The destination and the journey may both prove dangerous for teens in this week’s free audiobooks from the summer AudioSYNC program.

Download by evening of 27 May 2020 via the links below, and you can read with your ears as long as you keep the files on your phone or tablet’s Sora app shelf.

CD oover of Sisters Matsumoto, by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sisters Matsumoto (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Philip Kan Gotanda. Read by Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Suzy Nakamura, Greg Watanabe, Ryun Yu. Published by L.A. Theatre Works

Leaving prison camp in 1945, three Japanese-American sisters return to their California family farm, but find that everything has changed.

The young women are determined to realize their late parents’ dreams, even if the land is out of their hands.

This full-cast live performance is followed by an excellent discussion with former internee George Takei about US citizens “relocated” during World War II.

CD cover of Disappeared,  by Francisco X. Stork | Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas
Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Disappeared (download 21-27 May 2020)

by Francisco X. Stork. Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas. Published by Scholastic Audio

Las Desaparecidas, the disappeared girls, now include Sara’s friend Linda so the young journalist writes and worries, knowing that powerful forces in Juarez are behind the kidnappings.

Sara’s brother Emiliano hopes that building a small business will impress the wealthy classmate he adores.

Soon, the criminals threaten Sara and Emiliano’s lives – is it time for them to brave the desert crossing to safety?

What difficult journeys in life have you traversed with the help of your family?
**kmm

Our freedoms secured by INVISIBLE HEROES OF WORLD WAR II #YAlit by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Invisible Heroes of World War II, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Battling uphill against relentless gunfire,
Surviving tropical torture camps,
Building a bridge today & blowing it up tomorrow…

So many World War II stories concentrate on the big-name heroes we saw in our history textbooks, but thousands upon thousands of people with their own talents, strengths, and courage helped the Allies win.

Meet individuals like photojournalist Dickey Chapelle who made a name for herself as one of the first ’embedded journalists’ during the War and socialite Nancy Wake who worked for the French Resistance, taking escaped Allied prisoners to safety by train, right under the noses of the Nazis in Vichy France.

This book also notes the heroism of groups such as the Nisei Japanese-American Purple Heart Battalion fighting in Europe while their families were interned in concentration camps in the US, the Navajo Code Talkers whose top-secret service went unrecognized for decades, and the combat engineers keeping the US Army moving over land, marshes, and rivers.

The author of Compassionate Soldier (I recommended it here) brings us another good balance of personal stories and collective histories, rarely discussed and well-known, all worth discovering.

What under-told stories of heroism might be found in your family’s old letters, photo albums, and tales shared at family gatherings?
**kmm

Book info: Invisible Heroes of World War II: Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People , by Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is for Kiki, overwhelmed in STARFISH, by Akemi Bowman (YA book review)

book cover of Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Divorced parents,
everything is always about Mom-
where do Kiko and her brothers fit in?

Not accepted by art school, constantly belittled by her white mother for having her Japanese father’s appearance, and now her creepy uncle is moving in?

Thankful for Jamie coming back into her life and taking her far, far away from the chaos…Kiko has to find her place and make her art.

Family drama sent you on a new path?
**kmm

Book info: Starfish / Akemi Dawn Bowman. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Starting her life anew at Prism will take Kiko far from disdainful Mom and abusive Uncle Max in Nebraska, but the New York art school’s rejection shatters her plans.

When long-lost childhood friend Jamie offers to take her to California to tour art schools, she jumps at the chance to be with her brother’s friend whom she’s adored for years…and to get away from Uncle Max.

Half-Japanese and all confused.
Self-absorbed Mom sucks all the joy out of life for Kiko and her brothers.
Away, away, just get away and make her art…

“We all start at the same place, but you’re completely in charge of where you finish,” says noted artist Hiroshi when Kiko visits his art gallery with Jamie (p. 191) – and he wants to see her portfolio, maybe write a recommendation for someday-art-school!

J is Japan and MY ALMOST FLAWLESS TOKYO DREAM LIFE, by Rachel Cohn (YA book review)

book cover of My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life, by Rachel Cohn. Published by Disney/Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From nice house to shabby apartment,
apartment to terrible foster homes,
foster care to luxury hotel?!

Elle is stunned when ‘Uncle’ Masa arrives at her latest foster home (showers allowed once a week) with her new passport and an invitation from her biological father in Japan – happy 16th birthday after all.

Being so obviously hafu (half-Japanese) and gaijin (foreigner) is no big deal at her prestigious new school attended by kids of diplomats and business people from all over the world, but utterly scandalous to Elle’s new grandmother (no wonder Kenji was forbidden to marry her Native American/ African American mom).

Not sure she’s willing to believe all the gossip about Ryuu’s past or her dad’s convoluted business dealings

When have you been suddenly the outsider?
**kmm

Book info: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life / Rachel Cohn. Disney Book Group, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy from the library; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Swept from foster care in Maryland to a Tokyo highrise, sixteen-year-old Elle must figure out where she fits in her biological father’s family and the social order at an elite international school.

Once the painkillers hooked Mom after that car wreck, drugs took their house, Elle’s security, and put Mom in jail.

When her never-seen dad offers Elle a home in Japan with him, she’s wary but goes along – to an amazing apartment in his skyscraper hotel with 24-hour room service…and his displeased mother and sister nearby.

Elle has to work hard at school to catch up, wondering why fellow swimmer Ryuu is shunned by the popular Ex-Brat crowd who inexplicably adopted her.

Will she always see her father by appointment only?
Can her new grandmother accept Elle’s mixed-race maternal heritage?
What happens if things don’t work out with her family in Tokyo?

As Elle and Ryuu get to know each other at swim practice, some Ex-Brats go beyond pushy, and business pressures are affecting her dad, badly.

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.