Several years ago Dave and I visited the History Center in Denver where we learned about Amache, a Colorado detention camp where American Japanese citizens were incarcerated during World War II.
Families lost their homes and businesses and lived in close quarters, guarded by soldiers till the war was over. Because they were Japanese they were seen as suspicious and dangerous. This incarceration of Japanese citizens remains a disgraceful episode in both American and Canadian history.
My friend Kelly Fumiko Weiss, who lives in Chicago has written a new novel called The Stories We Choose Not to Tell. In the book, which I just finished reading yesterday, we see how three generations of women from a Japanese family are impacted by their matriarch’s World War II incarceration at Amache.
The Amache story is a personal one for Kelly because her own grandmother was imprisoned at Amache and in the foreward to her book Kelly tells us about her grandmother’s experience. However for a variety of reasons Kelly has chosen to create a fictional family for her novel.
Kelly uses different narrators to tell her story. Front and center is Angela a young television news producer trying to figure out the puzzle of her family life. The key to that puzzle may lie with Angela’s mother Judith, Angela’s aunt Pamela or Angela’s grandmother Aiko. Kelly uses journal entries and the script of an interview with Aiko to fill us in on the family’s past.
As the title of Kelly’s book suggests the stories from our past we choose not to share with our family members can have just as big an impact on our relationships with them as the stories we do decide to share. The book will you have you thinking about those kinds of stories and the role they have played in your family’s life. You can learn more about the complex and interesting family in Kelly’s story by ordering her book here.