A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua
Shigeru and his family lived in California, but then the war came. Some people treated Shigeru differently, even though he was an American. His parents had to put signs up in their laundry shop window saying they were loyal Americans. Soon people told Shigeru’s family that they had to leave their home and go to the middle of the United States. People even came into their house and took their radio. They had to sell their things, which people offered them very little money for. Shigeru even had to give away his dog, Skippy.
The family got on a train and left. Where they arrived was nowhere. There was nothing around. They had to live in a small room, which was nothing more than a shack. The room was shared with strangers. The food was awful.
After a time, the family was moved to Heart Mountain which was marginally better. There was a school and Shigeru made some friends. He even got a pet bird that learned to talk. The camp became a new life to Shigeru. One day, it came time to leave and return to a normal life; the war was over.
What I liked
I’ve read books about the Japanese concentration camps before. It’s a sad thing, but ultimately very important. We have to remember what we did so it doesn’t happen again.
Shigeru was a real person, which makes this book much more real. These things happened to a real person.
It seems Shigeru did not let the experience of living in a concentration camp taint his life or his experience of America. That’s a very optimistic view of the whole thing.
What I didn’t like
Why did this happen? Why were innocent Americans imprisoned for no reason? It all seems like an overreaction. We don’t have any right to treat an entire people with suspicion because one person did something bad. Granted, we are talking about more than one somebody doing something bad, but it was still a very small percentage of an entire people.
The good thing about American concentration camps, if you can ever say there are good things about concentration camps, was that they weren’t like the German camps. People can say they were imprisoned by the American government, but they mostly can’t say that they were murdered or exterminated. It’s a wonder Japanese-Americans who were in these camps found it in their hearts not to hate the United States for what happened.
I hate that anybody had to go through something like this just because of their ancestry.
Let’s be glad this is over.
Do you think these concentration camps prevented any war?
If you were imprisoned by a government because of your ancestry, do you think you could look favorably on that government afterwards?