Paper pub. date
January 2008
ISBN 9780870714177 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870710636 (ebook)
6 x 9 inches, 320 pages. B&W photographs. Index.

Stubborn Twig

Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family

Lauren Kessler

A 2009 Oregon Reads Selection

To celebrate Oregon's 150th birthday, the Oregon Library Association has chosen one book for all Oregonians to read: Stubborn Twig. Lauren Kessler's award-winning book, the selection for the statewide Oregon Reads program, is a classic story of immigrants making their way in a new land. It is a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and the drama of fiction, a moving saga about the challenges of becoming an American.

Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the other Oregon Trail — the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean — in 1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets. Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the area's most successful orchardists.

As Masuo broke the race barrier in the local business community, his American-born children broke it in school, scouts and sports, excelling in most everything they tried. For the Yasuis' first-born son, the constraints and contradictions of being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters prevailed, becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a classic tale of the American dream come true — until December 7, 1941, changed their lives forever.

The Yasuis were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry along the West Coast who were forced from their homes and interned in vast inland "relocation camps." Masuo was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his family was shamed and broken. Yet the Yasuis endured, as succeeding generations took up the challenge of finding their identity as Americans. Stubborn Twig is their story — a story at once tragic and triumphant, one that bears eloquent witness to both the promise and the peril of America.

About the author

Lauren Kessler is the author of 11 books, including Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's, selected as one of the best books of 2007 by Library Journal, and Washington Post bestseller Clever Girl: Elizabeth Bentley, The Spy Who Ushered in the McCarthy Era. Her literary nonfiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times magazine, The Los Angeles Times magazine, O magazine, Utne Reader, Salon, The Nation, and Oregon Quarterly. She is the founder and editor of Etude, an online journal of literary nonfiction, and directs the graduate program in literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Stubborn Twig, first published in 1993, won the Oregon Book Award.

Read more about this author

"Remarkable… excels in its historical sweep and in Kessler's flair for dramatic storytelling… Thorough, imaginatively told, and sensitive… an eye-opener."

San Francisco Chronicle

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