Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Jar of Dreams

A Jar of Dreams, written by Yoshiko Uchida, is a lovely story about a young girl learning to appreciate her heritage and culture. As I read this book I tried to remember if I'd read any historical fiction like this as I was growing up. I don't believe I did and if I had it would have made all the difference in the world. Too often we are limited in the resources we have to find out about history. We are often stuck with textbooks and facts. Rinko's story would have been a welcome reprieve from the dry information I sorted through in middle school and I would have been able to compare her life with mine as I learned more about the Depression and the Japanese-Americans that immigrated to the United States for a better life.

This story helped me to realize that many families changed their religious beliefs and some of their traditions to something totally different than those of family members from their native country. Many of the family's Japanese traditions stayed the same but Uchida's story also told of the family's day-to-day activities that mirrored my life at that age - fighting with your brother, helping with chores, having friends and neighbors that are like family, and wondering if you will like a family member you have never met.

I really enjoyed this story and found some important topics that everyone can connect with. Uchida reminds us that family and education is important, and that our heritage is something to be proud of - just as we should be proud of the person we are becoming. She also helped the reader understand the prejudice the Japanese-Americans were subject to during a time when life was difficult for everyone. Uchida also wrote The Magic Listening Cup, The Best Bad Thing, The Happiest Ending, Journey Home, and The Bracelet.

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