The Picture Bride
Hana finds herself on a journey across the ocean to marry a man she has only seen in picture and heard from by letter. This is the story of her life, her marriage with Taro Takeda, their family and the events of their life. Japanese people who came to America during this pre-World War II time, were not well accepted by the American people, as evidenced in the Takedas’ lives. Their story spans across the time after Pearl Harbor and they are forced to lose all that they had spent their lives achieving in America and move to internment camps. This story will challenge your mindset, perspective, and heart as you follow Hana on her life adventure.
Hana is a young Japanese woman who is not yet betrothed and discontented with her village in Japan. When her uncle shares of a young man in America, lonely and desiring a wife, she begs for the opportunity and finds herself on her way to America where she will live comfortably and happily with this successful merchant. It’s not as she expects it to be: Taro Takeda, her husband, is not as successful with his crummy shop as she envisioned, he’s not as amazing as she envisioned, Japanese are not treated well at all my Americans and she finds herself discontented even before the marriage ceremony. However, they wed and their life begins together. As Hana meets other Japanese in the area, she begins to love another man and they almost have an affair, but she wouldn’t let herself betray Taro. This man dies of an illness right along with her and Taro’s first child.
Hana and Taro’s marriage is not one of love or of great communication. They both just get by and do their spouse-ly duties. They have a daughter, Mary, and she becomes each of theirs main target of love. They both pour a great deal into their Japanese-American child and Taro has great dreams of owning his store in her name one day (Taro and Hana could never be citizens or own property, but their child could.) It grieves them both miserably when Mary runs off and gets married to a white man and they don’t see her again for a long time.
But Taro has bought the store, Hana does some house cleaning and they get along alright, until the attack on Pearl Harbor. This attack causes suspicion from all white Americans to fly toward them and their friends and Hana and Taro find themselves in an internment camp. They get to see Mary on their way to their second camp, though not their grandchild, and it elates them. However, Taro gets shot by a mistake of a guard in their second camp and dies. Hana and one of her Japanese friends remain at the camp together (both of their husbands had been killed.)
This story really displays the struggles of Japanese in America at this time. The difficulties and prejudices that they faced and gives us a glimpse of what a woman, a picture bride, like Hana, had to endure.
In my Life
This book was definitely interesting for me to read and it gave me new insight into the history of this time period and the way that Japanese Americans were treated. Also, the way that the author describes Hana’s heart toward her daughter and toward her experiences with her really hit home. It made me take a look at my treatment of my parents and what that does to their hearts.
In the Classroom
This is a more difficult read, probably for someone closer to the high school level but I would definitely encourage students that are able, to read this book, especially girls. We often forget about what happen to the Japanese in America after the attack on Pearl Harbor and this book is a great way to remember. It is also a good story of a woman’s struggle and perseverance in life. - AK