Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki
Book at a Glance
This is the true first person story of a Japanese American family's struggle to survive as a family while coping with life in an internment camp during World War II.
Setting: 1942-1945, Manzanar internment camp, in the desert, Owens Valley, California. Point of View: The first-person narrator is Jeanne Wakatsuki, a Japanese American girl who spends three and a half years with her family in the Manzanar internment camp.
Conflicts: The overriding conflict in the story is the loss of freedom that Japanese Americans experience in the internment camps. The narrator faces her own personal conflicts because of the years she spent in the camp and the effects of that confinement on her later life.
Resolution: The major conflict is resolved when the family is released and individual members are able to resume their independent lives. Jeanne comes to terms with her memories of the camp and the childhood she lost there.
Themes: People will struggle to keep their dignity. Difficult times can make or break a family's attempt to stay together. Growing up away from family and background is difficult.
Tone: Acceptance of fate; humorous perspective on human nature; admiration for the grit that helps people survive disaster. There is no bitterness in the book.
Of Special Note: Setting is here in California, about 4,000 feet aove sea level in the desolate desert of the Owens Valley, roughly 100 miles North of the dry Owens Lake bed, where burning summer sun bakes the desert daily to 100 degrees or more and the winters bring freezing temperatures and wind screams down from the mountains.