Kajal Patel's Reviews > So Far from the Bamboo Grove

So Far from the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
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Sep 29, 2011

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Read in September, 2011

So Far from the Bamboo Grove was spectacular! This memoir reminds me much of the story of Anne Frank because of both of their inner-self. If I were to be in Anne Frank's or Yoko Kawashima(the main character in So Far From The Bamboo Grove) and I was in the middle of World War II going on and I have to travel from one place to another, I would be with my family, but I wouldn't be in the same home I have lived, grew up, and created memories in; I would be in a place that was half-comfortable to me. For instance, if I were to be sleeping in a bed, or no bed at all, it wouldn't feel like "home" to me because I've adjusted myself to be sleeping in a caved in bed with white sheets and a crazy pattern-like bedding, but to be taking that away from me is a struggle to get use to and if I was known to have my mom make food for me and take care of me and love me, it changes when you are in a struggle to survive if you were just a 12 year old girl who only knew little about surviving as an escapee/refugee.

I could tell throughout the memoir that the Yoko, the main character, developed herself as a character by her needs and just her dialogue in general! From time in the book, Yoko was happy, but for silly things a rich person would think was completely nothing; silly objects like food, money, and a home. Yoko had transparent emotions, even though it was secretly hiding through a blanket of words. What really took me was when Yoko started going to school in Japan right after they (Ko, Mother and Yoko)came back from Korea; the city they were in was Fukuoka, Japan.
"She turned to me. 'For your cleaning assignment today you will be part of the group that does this room.' Then she placed me in a back seat. I felt desperately unhappy and out of place with these girls in their fine clothes. All had long hair, some in braids. Then a man teacher came in, a history teacher, it turned out. I had no books, no pencil or paper, but I listened. Loneliness attacked me again and I sniffed back tears. I could not wait for school to be over so that I could get back to the station, where I belonged, with Mother and Ko. After class, I had to linger for my cleaning assignment. Some of the girls, as they went out, tossed papers into a wastepaper basket. This gave me an idea and I examined the basket. The papers were crumpled, but many had little writing and all were blank on one side. I picked them up and smoothed the wrinkled sheets. I looked for a pencil too, but there was none. 'You want more paper?' a girl asked. She made an airplane with a piece of notebook paper and aimed at me. The others laughed. I bit my lip, but I did not shed tears when it flew, for collecting papers was a lot easier than looking for food in trash cans. Trying to ignore the girls, I unfolded the airplane and smoothed the wrinkles. There were six of us left to do the cleaning assignment. I had no dustcloth so I asked a girl with a broom if I could sweep, and she shoved the broom at me and walked off. As I swept and came near the girls who were dusting, they scattered, as if I were carrying contagion. If they had gone through what we had experienced, I thought, they would be compassionate. They just don't know! Tears came again as I swept. I longed not only for Mother and Ko but for Father and Hideyo." paragraph six, seven, and eight from page 95 and paragraph one, two, and three from page 96 in So Far From the Bamboo Grove.
In these paragraphs(in quotes), I could react to the pain Yoko was going through (because with all the travelling and hiding your true identity and other elements that were obvious in the text) because if I were to be caught up in the "drama" with the girls that were bullying me about my appearence, it would hurt me because of knowing what such I went through. If I were to be one of the girls and I was looking Yoko up and down in her torn-like, poor clothes, I would know to be supportive of her, just by her appearence.

In Yoko's point of view, her older sister, Ko, can be harsh most of the time and bossy, but what comes out of that is even more. "My legs became numb. I whined, 'I can't walk anymore.' 'You've got to,' Ko said bluntly, 'Don't talk, just walk!' She was getting very bossy." The first two dialogues on page 38 of So Far From The Bamboo Grove. "And then Ko yelled, 'Stay where you are!' She was hopping back on the ties as easily as if she were jumping rope. She had no pack on her back. When she reached us she turned around, bent over and said to me, 'Hop on.' I put myself on her back and locked my arms around her neck. 'Don't choke me, Little One,' said Ko, and coughed. I turned my head toward Mother, and the smile she gave me spoke worlds." At the bottom of page 39 and top of page 40. Those harsh and demanding words took more loving action than the Anti-Japenese Communist Army's similar words. It really means that if you yell and demand something at a person you love and want to survive and do well in life, the words are worth something and it's for the "person that is listening's" sake. It just shows that they (Ko, in this case) believes that whoever they are talking to (Yoko) can make it (Yoko can win the fight for survival).
How Yoko thinks of Mother is that she is more gentle and Yoko herself can know that she has her Mom there by her side and that she isn't completely alone. "'I have learned about good schools,' Mother said. 'I'll take you there tomorrow.' 'I have no clothes!' I protested. 'And look at my shoe, ripped open. I don't want to go to school!' I was going to school, she told me, to learn and to become and educated person. I did not need to decorate myslef." The second paragraph on page 92 in So Far From The Bamboo Grove. Again, this little conversation symbolized love. If Mother hadn't said those words and put it in a gentle form, then Yoko wouldn't have felt loved and she wouldn't have known that her Mother cares about her and her future. Mother would have had a clue about Yoko leading a normal life once more again and think that Yoko, and Ko, would be the future.

Yoko Kawashima sets a tone for herself throughtout the book. In the beginning of the book, she set herself as a person that did her work and was a good person, but once the Anti-Japenese Communists came through Japan, attitudes and emotions changed for Yoko, Ko, and Mother. Ko started to get more bossy; Yoko began to feel more saddness inside and lonliness, and basically she felt new to the new unknown world that the family was going through, but to me, and maybe Yoko, Mother seemed like she was use to the action of being an escapee. It felt like she knew how it was to be alone, and gentle when people are at their worst, and everything that falls in between.
Then there was Hideyo, the Honorable Brother of Yoko and I assume yonger brother of Ko. Hideyo was all by himself from ecaping from Japan to Korea, then from Korea back to Japan. He was more alone than ever. He didn't have a family to be with and no one to be able to talk to. Also to mention, he was traveling, towards the end of the book, in heavy snow and fell unconscious and ended to live with a temporary family. After explaining to the family that he had to go find his real family, he set out to locate any lving or word-by-word clue of finding his Mother (who was dead at the time) and his two sisters. All on his own, with the help of a letter stabbed onto a bulletin board that was written by his little sister, Yoko, he found his way back to them. Captivating and Ispiring to have a character like him able to live life on his own for over a year.

Do you remember when I mentioned the similar or duplicate character of Yoko Kawashima? If not, her name was Anne Frank. They both were very similar in character, and also in traditions. Although in Anne Frank's Diary, she doesn't mention much of her traditions as Yoko does in spots of chapters, but there is little to compare and contrast.
Compare: 1) On each of their New Year's Eve/Day, both cultures prepare a type of feast and/or colorful food to celebrate the new year to come.
2) Anne and Yoko's traditions are similar in the reasons of dance. At a get-together/performance/special occasion, festival, or even a wedding, there are traditional dances that are an act of a welcoming (mood) or any other act of a sign.
3) Both characters have or use calligraphy in their lives.

Contrast: 1) Both main characters have different religions. Anne Frank follows the Judaism religion when Yoko Kawashima most likely would follow the Buddhism or Shinto religion. So it would be obvious that beliefs and doings would be a difference.
2) For the men in a Jewish religion (Anne Frank), where the Kippah which is a type of head dressing that would be worn whenever is possible. For the women in Japan (Yoko Kawashima), they where kimonos for religious reasons or/and traditional reasons.

Overall, I liked this book, and I loved how all the siblings reunited at the end of the novel, but what really saddened me was that the Mother had passed away and the Father never returned (in the book) from Manchuria, and as well as the refugees that were minorly explained in the memoir, but mainly... outstanding writing and a work of art.

-Kajal Patel
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Stephanie Ochoa THIS IS LONG!! O.O

Kajal Patel Stephanie wrote: "THIS IS LONG!! O.O"

I know!!!!!

Kajal Patel Stephanie wrote: "Yeah!!!"


Kajal Patel :0!!!

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