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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of…

Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American…

by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

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Mary and her family raised strawberries like many of the other Japanese families on Vashon Island but life came to a crashing halt with Executive Order 9066. As a teen, Mary experienced anger and confusion about being American and Japanese; as an American-born, how could her own country treat her this way? Yet as a Japanese, Americans would never see her as anything but. Despite this scary, frustrating time, her parents’ stoicism and faith that all would work out keep her grounded at the times she needs it most.

The more I read about people's experiences in the internment, the more flabbergasted I am to think our government thought this was a good idea. A powerful witness to maintaining our civil rights! ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
This is a very moving memoir of a Japanese-American woman who was interned as a teenager. It may be of particular interest to fans of Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars: the Matsudas were strawberry farmers living on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound. It is also interesting to compare and contrast it with Jeanne Wakatusi Houston's classic Farewell to Manzanar.

Even though I was aware of the basic history of the internment and knew it to be a horrible injustice, I could not begin to feel the awful indignities and terrors without reading such a first-hand account. On a more general level, it helps me to understand that the effects of any catastrophe on its victims can linger long after the intense crisis. Even if one could argue a justification for interning or profiling people, it remains that, although it wasn't as bad as it could have been, it also wasn't conducted with due regard for the possibilities, indeed the near certainty, that a large number of the people were innocent. I am not certain that any such program ever would be handled with the care that such a drastic step would require.

I recommend this not only for understanding this terrible event in American history, but also a a more general cautionary tale about the dangers of letting suspicion and fear override our sense of fairness.

Includes a significant bibliography of other works on the subject. ( )
  juglicerr | Jul 17, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0939165538, Paperback)

In 1941, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald was a teenage girl who, like other Americans, reacted with horror to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Yet soon she and her family were among 110,000 innocent people imprisoned by the U.S. government because of their Japanese ancestry. In this eloquent memoir, she describes both the day-to-day and the dramatic turning points of this profound injustice: what is was like to face an indefinite sentence in crowded, primitive camps; the struggle for survival and dignity; and the strength gained from learning what she was capable of and could do to sustain her family. It is at once a coming-of-age story with interest for young readers, an engaging narrative on a topic still not widely known, and a timely warning for the present era of terrorism. Complete with period photos, the book also brings readers up to the present, including the author's celebration of the National Japanese American Memorial dedication in 2000.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:17 -0400)

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Mary Matsuda was only 16 years old when her family was ordered to leave their home on Vashon Island. They were sent to California's Tule Lake Internment Camp. Mary Matsuda Gruenewald shares her family's amazing story of survival and determination.

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