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Publisher's Summary

Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp - with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton-twirling lessons, and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the nation's number-one hit: "Don't Fence Me In".

Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention...and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

©1973 James D. Houston (P)2010 Recorded Books

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  • Avalon
  • California USA
  • 03-03-13

Freedom subverted

Do you live in a country where 110,000 innocent individuals can be taken from their homes at a moments' notice and detained in an isolated location for years with armed guards and no escape? If you're an American, the answer is yes.

In the racist roundup now known as the Japanese Internment, no charges were brought, no appeals were possible, and no due process observed. Families were apprehended without cause, incarcerated in the desert, then unceremoniously "released" three years later, their jobs, homes, and social networks dissolved in the interim.

Jeanne Wakatsuki was 7 years old when her family was forcibly relocated, by the US government, from Long Beach, CA, to the remote, high desert prison camp known as Manzanar. How this unthinkable action affected her, her siblings, and her parents is outlined in this true coming-of-age tale, set in the Japanese internment camp at Manzanar, California.

Through the eyes of a child, but with the wisdom of an adult, Jeanne describes her life in the prison camp, and the impact it had on her family. While she has every reason to be outraged at the injustice, Jeanne tells her story without rancor, focusing on facts, events, and details that let you feel her experience, illuminating a little-known historical series of events. Her memoir is clear-eyed and poignant, an easy listen you won't soon forget.

At the dawn of the great American experiment of democracy, Thomas Jefferson warned us that the price of freedom would be eternal vigilance. Although Jeanne's story happened in WWII, echoes of racism cloaked as national defense again surfaced after 9-11. Those who value freedom need to know Jeanne's story, as a protection against this type of atrocity ever being revisited.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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It Can't be Helped-It Must be Done

This was one of those dark times in our history. We rounded up Japanese like they were cattle. Just like we had done so many times before and would do again...witches, Indians, Communists, negroes to name a few. We never learn.

What this book brings to this is a myopic view of the interments. The author looks at her imprisonment through rose colored glasses. The Japanese had a saying "It Can't be Helped-It Must be Done."

She did give us an understanding of her family and their culture. This context helped me grasp how much this incarceration affected them. The cultural differences were unknown to those in charge and this created some tense moments.

This is a story of everyday life behind barbed wire. It is also a tale of how they made the best of a bad situation.

The author brings things full circle and tells us about life after the camp. I found it compelling that when time came to leave, they wanted to stay. With nowhere to go, the camp offered a sense of security.

So the reader doesn't think this camp was atypical of the other camps, we must remember Tule Lake. This was a miserable camp for those "suspected" of crimes against the USA.

This book becomes a salve to soothe those who become aware of this dark hour of our history. See things were not so bad.

The narrator was excellent and really gave the story an extra boost. It is so refreshing to have a narrator who is of the right ethnicity.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Good Read for Junior High Students

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I purchased this audio book to use in my classroom. My junior high English classes were reading Mrs. Houston's book and I thought listening to some chapters would be good for my struggling readers. I would recommend this book and the companion audio book to anyone who wants to teach young teens that World War II was not just about Germany and concentration camps. Mrs. Houston reminds us of the atrocities perpetrated upon others by our own government (United States) simply because of their ancestral lineage. <br/><br/>Farewell to Manzanaar gives the reader an intimate look at the Wakatsuki family who find themselves residents of Manzanaar, an internment camp. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston discusses what it meant to grow-up Japanese in caucasian United States before, during and after the forced internment. Mrs. Houston is refreshingly honest about prejudice and bigotry, especially when discussing her father's attitude toward caucasions and her own embarrassment regarding how "Japanese" her parents were.<br/><br/>Jennifer Ikeda's performance is wonderful. Her pacing and inflection were able to told my classroom of 12 and 13 year-olds captive to the point that they would beg for "just one more chapter." Ms. Ikeda's pronunciations of Japanese words and phrases was wonderful. If she is not fluent in Japanese, I would be very surprised. She inserted herself into the story so well that at times I had to remind my students that the person telling them the story was not Mrs. Houston,<br/><br/>Overall, this is a great story: for the classroom or just for the pleasure of reading/listening.

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great book

great read and reader, the ending to tie it into current times makes it that much more relatable

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Interesting

What did you like best about Farewell to Manzanar? What did you like least?

I enjoy non-fiction books... Some leave me inspired, this one left me wanting.

Did Jennifer Ikeda do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

It was easy to follow Ms Ikeda's cadence as she spoke. It was like listening to an old friends familiar voice tell a story.

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awesome book

loved it it was a inspiration to any one must read awesome book to anyone

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Must Read For American History

Would you listen to Farewell to Manzanar again? Why?

I would definitely listen to Farewell to Manzanar again. It is important story that recounts an important part of American History. Re-reading history is always an important fact. There is much to be learned from our historical missteps.

What other book might you compare Farewell to Manzanar to and why?

The Diary of Anne Frank<br/>Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry<br/>Red Scarf Girl<br/>The Watsons Go To Birmingham<br/>

Which character – as performed by Jennifer Ikeda – was your favorite?

Jeanne

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but I did not. In retrospect I am glad I did not. It was better to let the chapters sink in one by one.

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Narrator!!

The narrator of this story displays this story exactly as I thought it would be if the author read it herself. absolutely amazing

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No wonder this is read in schools now!

Manzanar is a memory that is fading from the collective memory, but shouldn't. Like Anne Frank's diary, it recalls a way of life fraught with attitudes we'd rather forget. It also shows the resilience of a young girl and a reminder to not let it ever happen again.

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pretty interesting

It's pretty interesting what they went through during WW2 and all of the worry. the dad in the story seems like an interesting character.