ABOUT THIS BOOK
To celebrate Oregon's 150th birthday, the Oregon Library Association has chosen one book for all Oregonians to read: Stubborn Twig. Lauren Kessler's award-winning book, the selection for the statewide Oregon Reads program, is a classic story of immigrants making their way in a new land. It is a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and the drama of fiction, a moving saga about the challenges of becoming an American.
Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the other Oregon Trail — the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean — in 1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets. Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the area's most successful orchardists.
As Masuo broke the race barrier in the local business community, his American-born children broke it in school, scouts and sports, excelling in most everything they tried. For the Yasuis' first-born son, the constraints and contradictions of being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters prevailed, becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a classic tale of the American dream come true — until December 7, 1941, changed their lives forever.
The Yasuis were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry along the West Coast who were forced from their homes and interned in vast inland "relocation camps." Masuo was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his family was shamed and broken. Yet the Yasuis endured, as succeeding generations took up the challenge of finding their identity as Americans. Stubborn Twig is their story — a story at once tragic and triumphant, one that bears eloquent witness to both the promise and the peril of America.