The move to the internment camps was a difficult journey for many Japanese-Americans. Many of them were taken from their homes and were allowed only to bring a few belongings. Okubo colorfully illustrates the dramatic adjustment of lifestyle that Japanese-Americans had to make during the war. Authentic sketches accompany each description of the conditions that were faced and hardships that were overcome. The illustrations were drawn at the time each event described throughout the story took place. Each hand drawn picture seems to freeze time, capturing the feelings and intense anxiety many felt during the war. The pictures assist the author's first person narration and assist the reader in creating an accurate picture of each account.
Okubo's story focuses on the daily life in an internment camp; meals were described as consisting mainly of potatoes and bread, horse stables used to house the evacuees were described as skeletons smelling of manure and bathrooms where endless lines violated privacy due to the lack of doors or partitions. It seemed like a prisoner's hell to most Japanese-Americans, each day passing slower than the last. They were robbed of their freedom and basic rights as American citizens and they knew there was nothing they cold do about it. The brief summary accompanied by authentic sketches provides the reader with a broad over view of what the camps looked and felt like. Okubo does not go into extreme detail, but does focus on describing most aspects of the internment camps.
Okubo's short and simple descriptions of camp life give the story a personal touch. It almost sounds as though Okubo is replicating a type of journal she kept throughout the internment process. Simple to read and understand, the book provides its reader with a personal account of what it was like to be a young Japanese-American imprisoned for a year of her life.
The camps represented a prison: no freedom, no privacy, no "America". Many families were separated and they did not know when they would see each other again. Internment was not a choice; it was a patriotic duty to prove Japanese-Americans' loyalty through submission to their new country. They had to believe in the government's reasoning and trust their new country. The years following the orders for the Japanese to be relocated would be frustrating and depressing for many. The Japanese expression "shi kata ganai" was widely adopted for these troublesome times. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston's Farewell to Manzanar illustrates the hardships and frustrations of a Japanese family, separated by internment. Houston was interned herself, during the war, which contributes to the vivid reality of the book. It describes the development of a civilization behind the barbed wire, a society who was forced to stay...