Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp, by Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey, is a first-hand story of her and her family’s endurance in two Japanese internment camps during the second world war which included Anita, and Amache. The book has four sections each detailing her life in the camps, and her past life, prior to the arrival at the camps, along with background stories of her parents and why they came to the United States and how they handled it. When I first read this book, I became very fascinated with the book and how it was about one young girl’s experience inside two of the camps. For someone who has studied the American homefront during World War ll, I found this reading to be quite interesting, nevertheless, learning more about Japanese American endurance at the time.
The first section entitled “Camping at Santa Anita,” explores the arrival of Lily and her family to the camps, minus her father. Upon arriving to the camp she mentions the condition of the barracks and how they consisted of being a horse stable prior to their arrival. This section also talks about her childhood, growing up in Hollywood prior to the war. Flash forward, and the United States is at war with Japan. Lilly notes in this section that the camp compose of American style. For instance, when Lilly was in school, they made her and many other cite the pledge of allegiance, despite the fact in what the United States was doing to her and family. While this section is details not only her childhood and what was happening on in the camp upon her arrival, I found it interesting to see the relationship Lilly had with her father. Her father who abstence from the family was dealing with alot of problmes.
The second section entitled “Settling of Amache,” recounts the journey of Lilly and her family to the camps. In order for them to reach the camps, the family had to travel by train. While on the train, she receives a diary, which brings back memoirs of an incident at school when she was younger and involved a boy. This section, not only sheds light on Lilly’s childhood, but explores the childhood of her mother, who grew up in Japan, and learned how to sew, which she begins to teach upon her arrival in the camp.
The third section entitled “Seasons, Joys, and Sorrows,” recounts the festivals that counted in the camps. Lilly emphasized on the types of animals in the camps including the rabbits in the camp, and she desires to be like them, as they are free to roam around and go as they please. Along that note, the weather is mention and she and her family reacted to the weather, given the fact, that her mother bought new clothing for them, when it got colder.
The last section entitled “Stepping Toward Freedom,” leans more on birthdays celebrated in the camp. What really got me in this section, was that her father returned after being away for a year, and comes back and tells Lilly that it’s okay to cheat and break the rules. I mean why would you tell a child that it’s okay to cheat and break the rules in the world. Over time, as the war is continuing, the government comes to the realization that the camps need to keep funds. This caused many people in the camp to get angry due to the fact that rationed food was given to the people inside the camp, which caused the establishment of farms. Eventually the war, and the camps closed. However, upon the closures of the camps, Lilly and her family had nowhere to go. They could not return home, as some Japanese families were being attacked. From this section the part where Lilly her family could not return home due to the fact that Japanese families were being attacked, even though the war was over. That really got me.