When we Americans talk about World War II from a cultural context, we (rightfully) discuss the Holocaust. It was a horrible crime against humanity, and we should never be allowed to erase the depths to which the human soul can sink. However, we never talk much about the crimes happening on our own soil–namely, the internment of innocent Japanese-American citizens, many of whom were born and raised in the U.S., and most (if not ALL) guilty of nothing whatsoever than looking “Japanese. Yoshiko Uchida’s memoir, The Invisible Thread, is a true account of her uprooting by internment and the means by which she, her sister, and their parents had to build their life back together.
I won’t summarize it for you here, because The Chancellor’s review is excellent and smartly stated. Read his review first, is what I’m saying.
I’ll only add this: I was heartbroken and heartsick for Uchida and her family. Her narrative voice is clear and strong and appeals to you on so many levels. She doesn’t sugarcoat the past, and she doesn’t gloss over the less than savory aspects of her internment. What really broke me was the way she and her family could not believe the betrayal they were experiencing at the hands of the country they trusted. It’s a difficult sentiment to express, much less to swallow. Uchida balances this shameful and humiliating experience with a graceful and honest voice, one that draws you into her life and makes you want to cheer for her.
I’m so glad I read this book. I think this should be required reading in the middle and high schools (really, for any American), and I’m baffled that it’s out of print. I am definitely teaching this with my own college freshmen this fall.