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Posted March 7, 2008
Readers might expect a book about being banished to an internment camp to be depressing, but Dandelion is not the story you would expect. First and foremost, it's a heartwarming story about an American immigrant family's daily life on the family farm in Sacramento. Here you have the young man, Shinji Sato, coming to America with nothing, working as a farm laborer to make a living and save for the future. After a few years, he returns home to marry, and realizes America is his new home. Together, he and his new bride, Tomomi, return to California to farm and raise a family. Against great challenges and prejudice, they manage to lease and then buy a farm, build a home, and raise award-winning strawberries and grapes, as well as other crops. Kiyo is the eldest child of this struggling young family, and her portrait of their family life is intimate and touching. She describes the hard work in the fields, playing on the farm, the family baths in an enormous hot tub, daily meals and holiday dinners prepared together, school days in a one-room schoolhouse, church life and neighbors, and her dad's wonderful stories and haiku poetry which the children could not get enough of. Into the middle of this sweet, idyllic family life and a now thriving farm, World War II intrudes. The family is forced to give up everything for the duration of the war and live in an arid, dusty concentration camp in Arizona. Yet even in this, these Japanese-Americans survived and transformed the desert into a garden and their prison camp into a town and the semblance of a home. The return to their homes and farms after the war brought many heartbreaks and struggles as families like Kiyo's had to start over again. Many had lost everything, yet in true American fashion, they were indomitable in spirit and managed to struggle back and rebuild their homes and their places in the community. Kiyo Sato's book is destined to become a classic. As the cliche goes, I laughed and I cried when I read it because in presenting such an intimate portrait, Kiyo makes the reader feel like a member of the family. Their struggles, their losses, their joys, and their successes seem almost as though they are our own. Their story is unique to their situation, yet it is also the timeless story of a typical American family, the story of modern-day American pioneers. Don't miss this book. It's a book you will remember for a lifetime.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2008
I've finished 'Dandelion through the Crack.' It is a book that should be ready by everyone. I especially became personally inthralled because I lived in the area she spoke of 25 years ago. This book really should be required reading for history. I wasn't born and didn't live in CA during the interment but as an older adult I had become aware of our country's paranoia and the shameful thing they did. In her straightforward yet eloquent style she so clearly describes her family and their circumstances. And yet she does not dwell on the negative. In its reading I was able to appreciate the hard work, love of family, and quiet dignity with which they are noted.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2007
We are at risk of living out the warning that those who do not learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat its mistakes. For America, the lessons of the past include those offered by the imprisonment--'internment'--of people of Japanese ancestry, many of them American citizens, during World War II. By order of the President, some 120,000 ordinary and innocent citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry were herded onto trains and taken away from homes, businesses, and ways of life. Most never recovered what was taken from them. Kiyo Sato, born in 1923 in Sacramento, wrote the the story of the Sato family's journey to America, growth of family and business, sweeping off to concentration camps, and ultimate survival and success despite terrible odds and oppressive prejudice. At its heart, it is the story of becoming American. Kiyo Sato has illuminated the narrative with a selection of her father's haiku poetry and stories he told his children as they grew up. Readers will relate to Dandelion through the Crack, reflecting on their own immigrant family backgrounds--recent or not. Dandelion will also fill a need in high school and college History and Social Studies classes. The book has the appeal of a novel, as the family faces and overcome challenges over the years. I had the privilege of reading Dandelion in manuscript in mid-2005, and have not stopped talking about it since. Every time I reread the manuscript--more than a half dozen times at this point--I find something new in it, another theme or idea or inspiration. I cannot pick it up and open it to any page without again being drawn into it. That is why I think it is a classic in the making.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.