Anna's Reviews > Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
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's review
Oct 31, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: advisory2007-2008
Recommended for: people who like memoirs

Farewell to Manzanar is a memoir of the author's time in an internment camp for Japanese people during World War Two. It is a short and easy read that deals with Japanese-American relations and the author's experiences with this. I never really knew much about these WW2 camps and it was interesting to learn about life in them. However, the author made Manzanar hard to imagine. She jumped abruptly from one tone to another, from one place in time to the next. At first she describes the camp as barren and her home as a tiny shack, so I imagine bleak rows of small metal huts in the middle of nowhere, shuddering at the thought of trying to life in a tiny shack with my whole family. A page later, she describes Manzanar as a small town, with a school and stores and a town center. So which is it?? A barren wasteland or a cozy little town?

The language is very simple and easy to understand. I appreciated the fact that, although the author went through quite a bit throughout her childhood, she doesn't sound bitter or regretful towards the Americans who put her in Manzanar. She simply takes it as a life changing experience, but doesn't go around blaming people. Although I feel that Manzanar, in a sense, wasn't the worst thing in the world to be sent to, the idea of Americans being so paranoid that they try to control an innocent group of people is astounding. It brings up the brash extremes that people go to when they are very afraid. WW2 was a time when Americans suspected everyone of being traitors to their country. Connecting to this topic, I know that there was also a Red Scare around this time, and people were so afraid of communists that anyone they suspected of being communist was put in jail or deported.

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