Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:
Kapoho, Memoir of a Modern Pompeii
By Frances H. Kakugawa
Watermark Publishing, 2011
Frances Kakugawa was only 5 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Despite still being quite young, she quickly learned what that meant for her and her Japanese American family living in the village of Kapoho on Hawaii’s Big Island. Her family was loyal to the United States, but they still had roots in Japan and were forced to get rid of almost all evidence of these roots during World War II.
This is just one of many stories Kakugawa shares in “Kapoho.” The book is about her life growing up in a small plantation village in Hawaii. She also shares how she worked hard to speak like a “haole,” or a white person, in an effort to realize her dream of becoming a writer and poet, as well as the special relationship she shared with her mother throughout her life.
Kakugawa’s memoir is a collection of vignettes, showing readers little snapshots of her life from childhood to adulthood. She didn’t have it easy. Her family was far from wealthy, and being Japanese during the war was more than a little difficult. But despite those difficult times, Kakugawa has fond memories of befriending American soldiers, as they stood guard throughout Kapoho, and of working as a maid for a white family to pay her way through college. She does not dwell on the bad parts. Instead, she focuses on the bright spots during the dark periods, reminding readers that even in the worst of times, there will always be a reason to smile.
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