Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Jenny Kimura

Not only do I own a copy of this title, there is one in my school library as well! It's a bit worse for the wear, but like Butler's Light a Single Candle, it is one I remember from my own youth and I just can't part with!

Cavanna, Betty. Jenny Kimura.
William Morrow and Company, 1964

Jenny Kimura Smith's father is American, and her mother is Japanese. They live in the Setagaya-ku of Tokyo, and her father considers Japan his home. Her mother's parents were very much against the marriage, and the Smiths only visit them at the New Year. Her father is estranged from his own mother, especially after his brother was killed in WWII, but Jenny hopes that the relationship between the two will be better now that her grandmother, after whom she was named, has sent for her to spend the summer in Kansas City. It's an exciting adventure, and Jenny hopes to get to know her grandmother better. She does, and she learns a lot about American society as well. She is considered a novelty; in Japan, she is too American, but in America, she is seen as too Japanese. When she becomes close with Alan, and accompanies him to a wedding wearing her kimono, his mother sends him away. Jenny and her grandmother go to the East Coast, where she gets to visit her cousin Dick, and where she meets George. George is a second generation Japanese American who was born at an internment camp in 1944. His grandparents lost their farm at that time. By the end of the book, Jenny is day dreaming about going to college in the US.
Strengths: There are lots of good descriptions of what daily life was like in both Japan and in Kansas City. The depiction of the prejudices Jenny faces are fascinating, and not something that today's children probably think about.
Weaknesses: This gets a bit overly 1950s girly when Jenny starts thinking about being Jenny Carlisle versus Jenny Yamada. Argh.
What I really think: It seems to me that there was another book written at about this time, but there was a brother and sister who were Japanese and moved from the West Coast to the midwest. Don't try googling it-- very disturbing results, but I will have to think about what that one was. Keeping both copies of this one.

Hadn't seen the paperback cover: this is much more 1967 than 1964. Funny how dramatically styles changed during that time period!

1 comment:

  1. Rats! the RI library system has six Betty Cavana's still, but this isn't one of them.