Long winding roads, verdent mountains, dotted blue skies, fresh chill in the air, and yes– The Choo! Choo! train. “Bye, bye Choo choo train!” says a mother to her toddler as they descended the train. The nostalgia and the romance of the steam engine is unique. It brings an immediate smile all faces and a faraway look in those of us who have experienced traveling long distances in them. The sharp sound of the whistle and the smoke plume billowing over the length of the train has a plaintive ring to it– as if seeking for a lost era.
‘Those who donot learn history are doomed to repeat it’. How true is this quote by George Santayana. I was reminded of it as I read this beautiful and timely book by Callie J. Trautmiller about a time in American history that has been forgotten. Perhaps because it is matter of collective shame. Still, it is important to talk about it especially now because of the circumstances we are living in. Because we humans are fond of creating barriers among ourselves. Despite being citizens of the same nation, some of us are considered to be less than others and are required to prove our loyalty.
Becoming American is about Executive order 9066 when in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the hysteria that followed, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were relocated to hastily set up camps in Western US. Entire communities were uprooted and their civil liberties were violated. This thoroughly researched novel has been written with tremendous sensitivity from the perspective of Allu Noguchi and her brother Robbie who are young and therefore unscathed with the scars and cynicism adults carry. Though categorized as Young Adult this book is a must read for all ages. Highly recommended!