Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Module 2: Journey to Topaz

Citation: Uchida, Y. (1971). Journey to Topaz. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Company.

Summary: Through the young eyes of Yuki Sakane, the story and details are told of the way the Japanese and Japanese-Americans were treated through the times of the United States’ fear.  During the period of World War II and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, begins the journey of Yuki’s family being imprisoned.  First her father is removed from their home by the FBI for being a suspected enemy alien and soon after it is discovered that all Japanese and Japanese-Americans are being taken to internment camps.  While in the Utah desert camps, Yuki begins to miss her American friends and her normal life, is confused through the changes that are occurring and soon learns how to go through the hardships of daily life within these camps with her mother and older brother.

Impression: Love and an Educational Read!

Of course while reading this story I became very curious to learn more details about this incident happening within the United States in the early 1940’s.  Thinking about living within the conditions described in the story is quite terrifying and contradictory to the freedoms our country has within the present.  It can be difficult to read about such an incident within history books and not get a true depiction told through a personal story. This book made me appreciate the freedoms I have and made me fully get a grasp on other’s hardships they have faced within the past.

Reviews: Journey to Topaz (1971) took twelve-year-old Yuki Sakane to a WW II concentration camp in the Utah desert; now, released, the Sakanes are in Salt Lake City where Papa is working as a shipping clerk, Mama is cleaning houses, Yuki feels uncomfortable, and all of them are lonely: ""Here. . . their world was made up only of hakujin--white people who were strangers to them in a strange city that wasn't home."" Then the order excluding Japanese from the West Coast is rescinded, and they head for Berkeley--where nothing is quite the same: best-friend Mimi has new interests, Papa's good job is gone, their house is occupied, their garden overgrown. But, by pooling their meager resources, the Sakanes, bossy Grandma Kurihara (whose granddaughter, Emi, is Mimi's replacement), and old Mr. Oka, touchy but steadfast, manage to buy back Mr. Oka's grocery store; and though hostile neighbors set it afire, sympathetic neighbors help restore it. Meanwhile older brother Ken, serving with the Nisei regiment, returns wounded and withdrawn; and in his reconciliation, the others also find a way to accept the divided past and the diminished present. Commendably blunt about the wartime misfortunes of the West-Coast Japanese, this is also hearteningly even-handed in treating of its outcome: it's staunch old-neighbor Mrs. Jamieson who best responds to Mr. Oka's grief when the atom bomb, obliterating Hiroshima, wipes out his kin. Uchida is not suggesting that many small rights--gestures or words--undo a monstrous wrong, only that each individual and each act counts.

Kirkus reviews. (October 1979). Journey to topaz. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/yoshiko-uchida-9/journey-home-5/#review

The book Journey to Topaz is historical fiction. This amazing and powerful book was written by Yoshiko Uchida. She wrote this book to bring to people's attention how upsetting this event and time period really was.

This book took place in various places such as Berkeley, California; Tanforan, California; and Topaz, Utah. In 1942, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. After that, most Japanese were sent to internment camps, even if they were U.S. citizens, because of their race. Many Japanese from places like Berkeley, CA and that area were sent to Tanforan, California where they lived in horse stalls. In these kinds of places, it was warm, they didn't have much privacy and they were only given a small place to live. From there, people were sent to Topaz, Utah. They had a bigger space, the children went to school, and there was a hospital. It was very dusty and there were dust storms often. People went through tough times and missed their homes. Others worried that they had lost almost everything. After about a year, Americans started realizing what was happening. The war had ended and many Americans apologized to the Japanese for their terrible mistake. Many people left Topaz and went to Salt Lake City to begin a new life.

While we were reading, I felt like the author really could make the reader feel the different emotions through her writing. The book also had very good descriptions. I think the author could have spent more time on each major event. For example, when Mr. Kurihara was shot Uchida could have written more about what happened at camp and how it affected everyone because it was a huge event.

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons. The characters really came to life in my head. I think this is a book that both children and grownups would find interesting. On a scale of one to ten for great description and a story of survival, I would rate this book an 8.5.

Altogether this book took me on a journey that I never knew existed. It captured me and made me want to read more. This book was incredible.

Hunt, D. (n. d.). Journey to Topaz. Retrieved from http://www.teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/19846/Journey-to-Topaz/

Use in Library: - This book would be perfect to use as a supplement to lessons on 9/11.  Discussions could also occur about discrimination that has occurred out of fear, people’s right to freedoms, and one’s responsibilities as a citizen. 

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