I find it interesting that Kadohata chose to place her characters in this particular camp. In my mind I had been comparing the treatment of the Japanese Americans to how Native Americans have often been treated historically: dehumanized, and tucked away in a corner when possible. So you can imagine my surprise when the girl in this book found herself on a Native American reservation. In short, it seems to me like Kadohata was also finding parallels between how the Japanese Americans and the Native Americans have been treated by our government, and placed her characters in a reservation to compare the two.
I think that an entire essay could be written on this subject, but I don't want to dig that deep at the moment.
I do want to note that this particular internment camp isn't fictional. To make sure of that I looked online and found some info about it here. Also, I wrote a review of this book here.
Last, there's something in the end of the book that I find interesting. The Japanese American girl, Sumiko, doesn't want to leave the internment camp: it has somehow become her home, and she doesn't want to be uprooted and uncertain of her future yet again. She argues about it with her aunt, who has managed to receive permission from the USA government and plans to leave, taking Sumiko with her.
Sumiko tells a Native American boy, Frank, that she wants to stay. But as a friend, he tells her
"The more people who are free in the world, the better it is for Indians. It's better for everyone. You should leave. You shouldn't live here. [...] My future is here, yours is somewhere else."
I had to wonder, what does Frank mean when he says that his future is on the reservation, but that hers is elsewhere?
To me it seems that he's saying his place is with his people, but that as someone whose homeland is far away Sumiko needs to simply look for freedom. And in her case, freedom means getting away from the internment camp and off of the reservation.
Another interpretation also occurred to me, however. What if Frank means that his own future is hopeless, but that he still has hope for her? I don't think that this is what he meant, but I can't prove otherwise, so it's a possibility that dangles in front of me even as I try to focus on the other one.
What do you think?