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Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,809 Ratings  ·  771 Reviews
Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any pop ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 1st 1983 by Laurel Leaf Library (first published 1972)
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Best Non-fiction War Books
19th out of 922 books — 1,332 voters
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki HoustonThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankMartin Heidegger by Rüdiger Safranski1939 - The War That Had Many Fathers by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof
Best WWII Fiction and Biography
1st out of 317 books — 439 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tammy  King Carlton
Jan 29, 2008 Tammy King Carlton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-personal-favs
The scene where Jeanne's mother throws her china dishes onto the floor - one by one - in front of a salesman who wants to buy them for an offensively low price, just because he knows she has no choice -is one of the best moments of triumph of the human spirit over injustice that I have ever read. I will never forget it.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Taylor Rector for TeensReadToo.com

FAREWELL TO MANZANAR is the chilling autobiography of a Japanese-American girl who survived the interment camps during World War II.

When I began reading this book I had no idea what the "internment" camps were. This is a subject that not many know about and is not a very well-known time in history. "Internment" camps were camps that the American government put together after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor to house all of the Japanese-Americans who lived
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Selena
Re-reading this as research for my writing.

It was while reading this book during my "Narratives of Interment" course in college that one of my classmates asked the fateful question, "Can we go to California?" "We'll see," our professor replied. He shocked us all a few days later by explaining that the American Studies department would foot the bill for our class to go to Manzanar. We were ecstatic. It was the most moving experience I have ever had. It was totally worth the red eye flight and sle
...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Reading as an adult, I think I enjoyed the book much more at the beginning. Initially, the story is intriguing, specific, and personal, setting the reader in the moment. It's strength is that it tells a particular and true tale of the Japanese Internment that is not just a story that happens during the time period, but a personal experience and the connections to events before and after the years in Manzanar. Compared to the horrible stories of human atrocities heard from other parts of the worl ...more
Kathrina
Nov 20, 2013 Kathrina rated it liked it
There's a lot of baggage associated with this title -- It pops up frequently on required reading lists for schools. Oh, the irony of being forced to read a book about people being forced against their wills. Also, the work was one of the first published narratives documenting the internment experience, and the author's intended audience, as she explains in the afterword, was not specifically for young readers (although, of course, she welcomes its popularity in classroom curriculum). I don't lik ...more
Pamela
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston has given the reading world a rare and beneficial gift with her historically relevant, emotively rich memoir - Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment.

Memoirs, by their very nature, can be quite fickle. Swinging wildly between two distant camps: glossed-over polished affairs or maladroit sensationalized sagas. Jeanne's recounting of her coming-of-age experiences during WWII as an ostracized Japanese
...more
Terri Lynn
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston really breathes life into history with this book which tells the real-life story of her internment in a relocation camp during World War 2.

It is no secret that the USA is a racist country and always has been. Asians met with the same hateful behavior that Native Americans, blacks, etc have faced. I was glad to see the point made in the book by a person who sued the US government for being imprisoned during the war without having committed any crime nor undergone due pro
...more
FreeFormLady
Apr 26, 2016 FreeFormLady rated it liked it
Also see my thoughts in this BookTube video
https://youtu.be/mQg1U7pOca0

3.5 STARS
I read this book shortly after reading When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. That book gave me all the FEELS and I gave it 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, but I could not give it 4 stars because it did not provoke my emotions like the previous book. However, this book did give a lot of facts from history. I liked the timeline given at the front of the book. I also liked the fact the author explained a lot
...more
Tiffany
Jun 25, 2007 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was incensed at the government for the first time in my life after reading this at age 11. That was the first time I looked at the myths of our country critically. I think it's sad that they only way children learn about the Japanese internment situation is through reading outside of school.
Cindy
Mar 22, 2008 Cindy rated it really liked it
Although I've read a lot of stories written by Holocaust survivors, this was the first book that I have read about the Japanese-American internment camps. This is a part of American history that many, many Americans seem to know nothing about.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I saw this movie way back in junior high, but I couldn't remember having read the book.
A straightforward, easy to read, first-person account of something that never should have happened here in America. The author was only seven years old at the time her family went into the camp. It's interesting to read her views of the situation as a child, then later in the book to see her perspective looking back, when she realizes the long-term effects of that early experience.
Danielle
Dec 01, 2009 Danielle rated it it was amazing
This book really changed my life as a youth. My parents both encouraged me to read it. Specifically my mother who is not that Japanese side of my heritage. My great grandparents on my father's side were originally from Japan. My grandfather who was full blooded first generation American fought in WWII. My great uncle however did not and was with his family put into a Japanese internment camp. It gave me a view into what my family went through. Brothers divided on the idea of the war and the susp ...more
Rade
Nov 26, 2015 Rade rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
So you got Jeanne, a very young girl who is thrown into a world full of confusion, racism, and prejudice, all of which she does not understand right away.

On the other hand, you got her father who drinks a lot and expresses his hatred toward their situation as well as his disagreements on the way Japanese people have been treated. He is very traditional. believing in honor, courage, and respect, a ways of life which have not only been challenged but also are slowly disappearing from his children
...more
Kogiopsis
Mar 02, 2011 Kogiopsis rated it really liked it
It's been about six years since I read this, but I remember it fondly.
The internment camps of the WWII era tend to get overshadowed in the study of history, which I find to be disgraceful. Yes, the Holocaust and the atomic bomb are vital events in the history of the world, and I'm not suggesting that we ignore them by any means. But the internment camps need to be talked about: if they're glossed over or ignored, Americans run the risk of forgetting that our country was at war with two other nat
...more
Erin
Mar 22, 2007 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Great memoir that tells the story of Japanese internment through the eyes of a girl who was 7 when she arrived there. Great for history buffs and even more so for history teachers. The author describes her experiences at the camp in vivid detail and - even more powerfully - explains the impact of those experiences on her after she left the camp. Teachers of adolescents can do amazing things with passages from the book that relate to identity and self-image. Good, quick read that can be read on m ...more
Sharon
Jun 23, 2016 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This book has been on my "to be read" list for quite a while. I picked up a copy at the Rosie the Riveter Museum gift shop last week.

Wow. This book takes on a lot of heavy subjects. The author, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, was interned (along with her family) for three years as a result of Executive Order 9066. She was seven years old when the family entered Manzanar and 10 when they left.

Houston gives us a clear picture of what life was like for Japanese internees during World War II. She tells us
...more
Stuart
Aug 16, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear and concise childhood remembrance of being unjustly interred by her country. The book not only covers the time being held in Manzanar camp, but goes on to show the long term impact on the author's family. A shocking period of American history that I wish my school education had covered.

(Below is opinion I often find irritating in other people's reviews, but now I find myself droning on myself -- sorry!) It speaks to modern times and is a good story to remember in the "war on terror" tod
...more
Prima Seadiva
Yet another thrifty find-25 cents! This was a pretty fast read. This is a memoir of the author's experiences as a young girl of her internment at Manzanar and the effects on her family there and after they returned. Her descriptions of life in the camp are fascinating. Her recounting after she returned and as she grew into a young woman addresses those after effects. It's not the best written book I have ever read but it did grab my attention. There are many other reviews that go into more detai ...more
James Schmalz
Sep 19, 2012 James Schmalz rated it really liked it
This is the heart warming story of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her family's relocation to the camp Manzanar. It was a touching book that made me shed many a tear for the tragedy that we call World War Two. Farewell to Manzanar lets you feel the obstacles that plagued the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. It starts with one of the only tastes of normal life Jeanne had before Manzanar and even this was not quite normal. All in all I'd rate this 4 out of 5.
Barbara
Jul 27, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the tragic story about how the US government treated its own citizens in WWII. Thousands of Japanese American people, many of whom were born in this country, were placed in internment camps to "protect" the American people. Is this hindsight or were people actually deluded into believing the Japanese Americans were a threat? Judge for your own opinion on this controversial topic.
Lauren Curley
Nov 01, 2015 Lauren Curley rated it it was ok
I have been to Manzanar which is why I wanted to read this book. This book really made that trip come to life. Gaining a better understanding of how the Japanese were removed from their homes and then their typical lives in Manzanar were fascinating. My favorite part was reading about how the camp changed from when it opened to when it closed. To start with bare floors and dust flying everywhere to more acceptable conditions made more sense after my visit and this book.
The reason I am rating th
...more
Julie
I read this book shortly after it was published, and remembered it as being a very powerful memoir. Recently, a neighbor mentioned to me that he and his wife had, on a recent vacation, gone to Manzanar, where her father (who died last year, a few weeks short of his 100th birthday) had been interned during World War II. We spoke for a bit about it, and I remembered this book and recommended it to him. The conversation spurred in me the desire to read the book again.

On second reading, the book is
...more
Xian Xian
Jan 29, 2016 Xian Xian rated it liked it
If you guys are wondering why I'm reading more non-fiction than I usually do, it is my goal for the year to read more non-fiction books and also because I'm taking an online history class as an elective. This book was short and the font is pretty darn big since it's apparently a young adult book. Like, literally on the back cover it literally has the website link, www.Randomhouse.com/teens.

This is a memoir about Wakatsuki Houston's childhood as a Japanese American during WWII. She writes about
...more
alix
Feb 23, 2015 alix rated it really liked it
Given my (frankly kind of strange and obsessive?) predilection for slavery and Holocaust memoirs and historical fiction as a tween, I'm sure I would have devoured this book in fifth or sixth grade. I didn't learn about the internment of Japanese and Japanese-American people until high school U.S. History--I can still remember the day I realized that FDR had signed Executive Order 9066 and he almost immediately lost all the respect my mother's family had inculcated in me in response to his New De ...more
Alaine
May 31, 2016 Alaine rated it liked it
I originally read this in the fifth or sixth grade and it made an impression. I'd never heard of the internment camps before. Because of this book, I made my mom stop by Manzanar when we drove past it one weekend trip. I got out and walked around a bit, realizing to an extent how freaking bleak the place was. I remember saying something about how it wasn't right and my mom saying something about how it was a war and it was fine. -__- Anyway, I re-read the book as an adult and it wasn't quite the ...more
Judy
Jan 17, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I recently read "Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet," and it reminded me of "Farewell to Manzanar." I discovered that I hadn't listed it as one of my books. I read this book when I was in my 40s as a class assignment when I went back to college. I was a child during WWII, but as I went through school I never learned of the horrible injustice that was done to Japanese Americans during the war. I was shocked! I realize there was a lot of fear in the country after Pearl Harbor. But I also thin ...more
Ken
Apr 09, 2009 Ken rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston has succeeded in writing a book that is readable and worthwhile for any reader -- I would say ages 12 to adult. I wish I had been assigned this in school, for I did not learn about Japanese internment camps until much later, probably my senior year in high school. I'd be willing to venture that even many high school students don't learn much about this part of American history.

The author wisely avoids pathos and melodrama, which allows the situation to speak for i
...more
Taylor McLemore
Mar 01, 2013 Taylor McLemore rated it it was amazing
"Farewell to Manzanar" is a book about the Japanese American war that is happening during the 1940's. This is talks about a young woman and her family being uprooted from their home to a camp with other Japanese Americans. It was a struggle for the little girl because she was one of the youngest in her family and she had to look after them.

Jeanne Wakatusuki was the name of the little girl. When her family had to be uprooted from their home in 1942, she was only seven years old. Her and her fami
...more
Sue
I have had this book on my shelf for years so I finally pulled it to alternately listen and read. It's a searing memoir of a young girl's life before, during, and after her time in the Manazanar camp for Japanese-American internees. It deals with family and personal issues in an honest and open way and really makes the reader feel some of her emotions. Always considered a must-read about that experience, I agree whole-heartedly.
Ptreick
Aug 20, 2011 Ptreick rated it really liked it
I just reread this book in preparation for teaching it to my seventh graders. The book is powerful, and the themes of nationality/ethnic heritage/prejudice/racism/acculturation are powerful; many of my students will relate to the Wakatsukis in one way or another.

I've probably read the book two or three times, and each time I do feel like I still don't have the best understanding of Japanese internment camps, specifically Manzanar.

Maybe this isn't so much a fault of this book as our culture over
...more
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“The reason I want to remember this is because I know we'll never be able to do it again.” 16 likes
“From that day on, pay of me yearned to be invisible. In a way, nothing would have been nicer than for no one to see me. Although I could not have defined it at the Tom me, I felt if attention were drawn to me, people would see what this girl had first responded to. They wouldn't see me, the would see the slanted - eye face, the Oriental.” 0 likes
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