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1. Kiyo's Story

While reading my way through the recuperation from my foot surgery, I read a wonderful memoir, Kiyo's Story, by Kiyo Sato.  The subtitle is A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream.  Originally the title was Dandelion Through the Crack, suggesting how the spirit can bloom, despite unbelievable adversity.  This book won the 2008 William Saroyan Prize for Non Fiction and should be required reading in high school history classes to give young people an understanding of how political hysteria can sweep a nation into unthinkable behavior.


Kiyo was nineteen when she and her family, as well all of the Japanese -American communities on the West Coast, were sent to an interment camp; in the Satos' case, in Arizona.  Prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there was already a mindset in place: Japanese immigrants were not allowed to become citizens or to own land.  Their children, however, were citizens by reason of birth.  But following Pearl Harbor, and Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066anyone with 1/16 or more Japanese ancestry was suddenly declared a "non-alien". Curfews were established.  They were not allowed to travel more than a five mile radius from their homes.  Finally they were rounded up, and forced to abandon their homes, taking only whatever they could carry on the train to an interment camp.  The Sato family, like neighboring families, were fruit farmers; their fields would be untended.  Some farms were simply taken over by squatters.   


Kiyo Sato first acquaints the reader with her parents' lives before this tragedy.  Her father, Shinji, left Japan as a boy because of extreme poverty in his village.  He labored for farmers in California, returned to Japan to wed a pretty nurse, and saved enough money that, through the help of others who were citizens, he could obtain a parcel of land.  (At the time, Japanese immigrants were not allowed to own land.)


Kiyo's mother, Tomomi, worked side by side with Shinji in the fields, as did Kiyo and, later, her eight brothers and sisters. Slowly they brought the barren acreage to life until their produce was in demand and they had markets as far away as Canada.  The

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