Obasan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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    Obasan is an excellent narrative that illustrates the life of a Japanese- Canadian girl during World War II. Throughout the novel we see the prejudices and unjust treatment that Japanese-Canadians were forced to endure, due to the suspicions brought as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were forced to move from their homes, taking only necessities and leaving their possessions behind. Separated from family, they were thrown into a living space meant for two, but containing seven. As the main character, Naomi, grows to adulthood, we are shown the psychological effects of her experiences. She is silent and withdrawn. Her brother, Steven, handles his past in a different way. Also withdrawn, Steven unconsciously uses his music as a voice to scream out his pain and anguish. He tries to rid himself of his culture, the thing that caused him to be tortured and abused. The bond of trust broken between citizens and their country has not healed over time and continues into the next generation.

I strongly recommend this novel, not only for its historical content, but because of the representation of the quality that can be found in all human beings. The need for her mother's love and comfort follows Naomi throughout the novel, yet this need remains unfulfilled because the war separated them permanently. A question that haunts Naomi is why her mother left her and never returned. It is not until the end of the novel that she finds the answer and the reader is left with a lingering question of whether it was better for her to know or continue wondering. The traumas of war are thought only to occur on battlefields, but in Obasan we are reminded that the people at home suffer as well.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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