Nisei Daughter by Monica Sone

My mother-in-law gave me this book to read after her book club read it a few years ago.

Published: 1953

Genre: autobiography

Length: 264 pages

Setting: mostly California, plus a bit in Japan, 1930s-1950s

Summary: We follow the life of Kazuko Monica, a second-generation Japanese-American growing up in Seattle. Her father ran a flophouse and they were fairly active in the Japanese community of the area, going to a Japanese school and the community’s annual picnic. The family travels to Japan to visit Kazuko’s grandfather. When WWII starts and Pearl Harbor is bombed, all the Japanese-Americans are rounded up into concentration camps. Kazuko is able to leave and go to college, but her parents remain for longer.

Final thoughts: A really interesting book. The Japanese culture is so quiet and demure (especially the women’s roles) compared to America’s. It’s definitely something I noticed personally when we went to Japan this past year. The subway and train cars were so quiet compared to what I’ve experienced in various U.S. cities.

The way we treated the Japanese-American citizens is pretty sad. Mr. Curiosity is doing some research into laws governing immigration to the U.S. and how they’ve changed over time. Turns out, we were pretty awful to all the Asian immigrants. The Japanese had it the worst, though, because of how we treated them during WWII. It’s a timely reminder not to fear a group of people wholesale, especially after the election of Trump to President. Let’s hope we remember and work not to do it again.

Title comes from: Immigration from Japan was essentially halted soon after it surged in the Pacific Northwest. That limited the Japanese to distinct generations. The Nisei were the second generation of Japanese-Americans (and the first American citizens) and Kazuko had a role to fulfill as a daughter in a Japanese family.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this is a review of a book read in a previous year.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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