I’ve read a number of books about Japanese internment and each one brings a different voice and perspective to this time in American history. From Farewell to Manzanar to a very good book I read this year named Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. As with anytime I read a book on a subject I know a little about, I thought, what new does Takei bring to this history? The answer is everything. The innocent and open POV of a young boy, and the perspective of a lifetime of living after internment.
Takei starts his story with his displacement from Los Angeles to the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas. The trip and the eventual daily life at the camps are spliced with the facts about the government’s response to Pearl Harbor and the impending war. Roosevelt and other politicians are quoted and then we get George’s father and mother’s responses to the news.
Then comes the real change when the ‘evacuees’ are asked to complete the Application for Leave Clearance. And George’s mother answers no-no to the infamous questions 27 and 28. The family is moved to Tule Lake Interment Camp in Northern California and life becomes a great deal more difficult.
This is a book that needs to be in all Middle and High School libraries. And I could even see teaching this book to a class of freshmen at my school. It is such an important topic and timely now because of the recent immigration issues we have seen in our country. Takei has continually used his fame for good in helping promote the rights of the LBGT community and this book is powerful evidence on the destructive nature of labeling people as ‘others.’