BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

No-No Boy by John Okada [in What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature]

No-No BoyIchiro Yamada, a second-generation Japanese American, returns to his home city of Seattle after spending two years in an American prison camp and another two years in jail. He returns home a pariah, for having refused to serve in World War II. He struggles for acceptance, especially from his own self.

During World War II, some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned in desolate camps scattered throughout the American West. The term “No-No Boy” refers to the Japanese American young men who, when given the so-called “loyalty questionnaire” in camp, refused to swear absolute allegiance to the U.S. and refused to serve in the U.S. military. Already having been stripped of their basic civil rights and imprisoned without due process behind barbed wire, a small percentage of Japanese Americans could no longer place their faith in a government that had treated them so wrongly. Of these “No-No Boys,” some were eventually deported to Japan (even though most of them had never been there), while others were sent to maximum security camp facilities (such as the barren and isolated Tule Lake camp) or jailed for several years. Although Okada writes with fluency about the “No-No Boy” experience, he was not one himself; he served in the U.S. Army during the War.

Review: “Asian American Titles,” What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature, Gale Research, 1997

Readers: Adult

Published: 1957


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