JOURNEY HOME by Yoshiko Uchida


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Journey to Topaz (1971) took twelve-year-old Yuki Sakane to a WW II concentration camp in the Utah desert; now, released, the Sakanes are in Salt Lake City where Papa is working as a shipping clerk, Mama is cleaning houses, Yuki feels uncomfortable, and all of them are lonely: ""Here. . . their world was made up only of hakujin--white people who were strangers to them in a strange city that wasn't home."" Then the order excluding Japanese from the West Coast is rescinded, and they head for Berkeley--where nothing is quite the same: best-friend Mimi has new interests, Papa's good job is gone, their house is occupied, their garden overgrown. But, by pooling their meager resources, the Sakanes, bossy Grandma Kurihara (whose granddaughter, Emi, is Mimi's replacement), and old Mr. Oka, touchy but steadfast, manage to buy back Mr. Oka's grocery store; and though hostile neighbors set it afire, sympathetic neighbors help restore it. Meanwhile older brother Ken, serving with the Nisei regiment, returns wounded and withdrawn; and in his reconciliation, the others also find a way to accept the divided past and the diminished present. Commendably blunt about the wartime misfortunes of the West-Coast Japanese, this is also hearteningly even-handed in treating of its outcome: it's staunch old-neighbor Mrs. Jamieson who best responds to Mr. Oka's grief when the atom bomb, obliterating Hiroshima, wipes out his kin. Uchida is not suggesting that many small rights--gestures or words--undo a monstrous wrong, only that each individual and each act counts.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1979
ISBN: 0689716419
Publisher: Atheneum (Margaret K. McElderry)