Silver Like Dust

“We undressed and then had to walk what seemed like an endless distance to the shower, naked. Down a long hallway. Many women tried holding a washcloth over—you know, to cover themselves, and try to hold on to some sense of dignity.” ~ Silver Like Dust

Other than psychology, pathology and philosophy of religion journals, I don’t read much lengthy nonfiction these days. I picked up Silver Like Dust: One Family’s Story of Japanese Internment because my nephew is reading the memoir for an English class. I wanted to be able to discuss the book with my boy.

I didn’t think it would be an enjoyable story. I mean, it is about innocent people imprisoned by a group that managed to turn fear into hatred. But my reading prognosis was wrong. It remains true that Silver Like Dust shows the United States at one of its not so finest moments, but the way the story is structured, the tone of the tale and the relationship between a granddaughter and a grandmother made the reading informative and pleasurable.

Kimi was always curious about her family’s—especially her grandmother’s—experience at Heart Mountain, a Japanese internment camp during WWII. However, the culture Kimi was born into places a lot of importance on privacy. Kimi’s grandmother is more reserved than most. While Kimi is in college, she decides to bite the mochi—a Japanese dessert Kimi doesn’t particularly care for—and ask her grandmother about her life as a Japanese American in the early 1940s.

The exchange between Kimi and her grandmother starts at a shy pace. They soon get more comfortable and step into the heart of the story… Kimi and the reader learn information as detailed as what people packed before going into the camps, and as complex as the reason why a boy was sent across the ocean as punishment for throwing a rock at a statue.

Silver Like Dust offers a taste of history, American Japanese culture, family dynamics, and for those who need thrills in their tales, let me say that there is a snake, an alligator, and perhaps a bear… Best of all, there is love, growth, healing and tradition.

Below, drawn by me and not the five-year-old you are probably imagining, is my August entry for the Artful Readers Club. Yes, I was late and wild. About the drawing… Kimi and her grandma consumed quite a bit of tea, so the pot felt right. Then I wanted to create something to symbolize their relationship—the grandmother wilting towards the winter and the granddaughter looking up to the one who holds her roots.
“Granddaughter and grandmother held hands walking uphill.” ~ AlmaMia Cienfuegos

24 comments:

  1. I like your image and its symbolism quite a bit. It is not a book I would have chosen, but sometimes the strangest of books chooses me. Maybe one day soon you can explain how the artful book club works. I joined but won't be able to participate until the new year and somehow missed the art and monthly book connection until you your last two posts. Thanks. Many Hugs, Your Hotness :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to avoid books about the Holocaust, War, Slavery... They are just too painful. I know we need to remember history, in order not to make the same mistakes over and over, but goodness sometimes is just too much. This one was more than a pleasant surprise.

      Yay! for joining ACR. Hugs back from, Your Hotness (or is that "My Hotness"?) ;-D

      Delete
  2. Somehow I knew what this book was about when I saw the first paragraph and passage from the book. This was a SAD, sad time in US history. In that respect, we are not much different from the Nazi's except we didn't kill our "prisoners," or even call them that. Shame on us, and good for the author. I'm glad it was a positive story in the end.

    Your art is amazing. I really WISH I could draw as well as you. You did a fantastic job and I loved the symbolism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On a very strange note, I picked that line because it reminded of Marine Corps boot camp. Isn't that weird? It almost a ridiculous comparison, I know. But I was just thinking that to go through the things we go through at boot camp without having choosing it has to be hell. Poor poepl. And shame on us, indeed. Fear is an ugly, ugly, ugly thing that makes monsters of the best of us.

      I just giggled at your comment about my art! ;-D

      Delete
  3. *Adds another book on her "to read" list*

    That is some interesting symbolism, especially in the colors. The grandmother being in the late autumn of life with petals a rusty brown, and the grand daughter's white as a blank slate.

    Dang it, I wanna do the artful reader club too! LOL, I think I have to wait for January to start up though right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'll enjoy this one quite a bit (there is tea! and the rituals of Japanese weddings, which I thought were intriguing).

      I was thinking about my Mamá when I drew this... and about a sweet and talented lady on the other side of the pond...

      Mario just joined ACR, I think you can, too. I don't see why you can start now and then continue in January.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for telling me about the book, and for your review which confirms that I must buy it. The review has strengthened my resolve. You are too hard on yourself about your artwork, it is a lovely summing-up of the spirit of the story, particularly the idea of the grandmother wilting and the girl looking up to her - and I particularly noticed the single eye this time. I'll be answering your wonderful email as soon as I can, and I was so happy to receive it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that they look happy together. The autumnal flower standing strong, and the little one knowing that she has that strongest of foundation to grow from. I'm glad you noticed the eye ;-D

      Delete
  5. Magaly, what you created is so special and so meaningful! I love it! You have a gift! Hugs ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shall bask in your sweet words, my beloved Crow Goddess.

      Delete
  6. Oh Magaly, I love your drawing and the symbolism (very Jungian, my sweet) you have so clearly portrayed in heart warming detail. This book sounds like a work of love, realism and tenderness. Warmest hugs and a happy week. Mina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...love, realism and tenderness" describes this book wonderfully, my Mina. The story is so captivating that by the time I finished reading I had reviews tons of WWII events without realizing it. Also, I'm even more enchanted by Japanese culture.

      Delete
  7. I think that I will need to get this book as soon as I can. I have a friend whose grandfather was in a camp and I have always been curious but never thought I dare ask any questions. Thanks for the review and I love your drawing. As others have said you are much too hard on yourself. The delightful rendering is perfect for your perspective on the tale......as it should be. Oma Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oma, I think you'll be able to identify with both Kimi and her Grandma. I also think your Sweet Man might enjoy the book, too. I found myself looking at war through the eyes of the "other side." Not a comforting sight for anyone. It's not a happily ever after, but a I'm grown ever after reading this.

      Delete
  8. I have enjoyed reading your review. This is another title for my 'to read' list. Your artwork is very insightful with the two flowers on the same stem, one all seeing, wilting, and the other, smaller looking upward, waiting to bloom i. A perfect choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get a lot out of this reading. I did. And after I was done, I knew I totally adored the grandmother. Definitely and 80-something-year-old oak!

      Delete
  9. Will you never run out of places in my heart to touch?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never, my dear love. Your heart is too big for that. Too, too, big.

      Delete
  10. this must have been a tough read, I too tend to avoid books that have to do with man's cruelty and aggression to his fellow man.....anything wartime generally. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I do love your drawing, the flowers have such personality!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was bittersweet. The ugly bits from the past, and the great ways in which the family recovered. A lovely read ;-)

      Delete
  11. Brave reader. Like you I tend to stay away from books about war and slavery, etc. This one would have been no exception. I get too emotionally involved, which is where I am focusing on the shadow end, right now. Sounds like the book was good, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a book that you can get emotionally involved with, and not be left feeling empty. The tale is told decades after the fact and the way the family has gone through it all is truly remarkable.

      Delete
  12. ohh such a sweet teapot and flower image, I feel my heart strings tugged whenever a book like this is reviewed. I always 'want' to read them but never do because I just know i would do so in tears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way about books with these kind of theme. It was one of the reasons why I was avoiding it. This one surprised me. It wasn't happy, of course, but it serve a special kind of hope. I was... "better" when I finished ;-)

      Delete