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Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream [Hardcover]

Kiyo Sato

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Book Description

April 1 2009
<p class="MsoNormal">“Vividly honest, deeply moving.”—Bill Hosokawa, Out of the Frying Pan: Reflections of a Japanese American <p class="MsoNormal">“It is a magnificent memoir, fully worthy of being compared to Farewell to Manzanar. I cannot praise its pointillist realism, its Zen-like austerity, highly enough. Exquisite.”—Kevin Starr, California : A History <p class="MsoNormal">“Taken simply as a family chronicle, it is moving and graceful. But it is also a powerful, thought-provoking historical document.”—James Fallows, Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy  <p class="MsoNormal">When Kiyo’s father left Japan, his mother told him never to return: there was no future there for him. Shinji Sato arrived in California determined to plant his roots in the land of opportunity even though he could not become a citizen or own land. Education was his watchword.

He and his wife and their nine American-born children labored in the fields together, building a successful farm. Yet at the outbreak of World War II, when Kiyo, the eldest, was eighteen, the Satos were ordered to Poston Internment Camp.

This memoir tells the story of the family’s struggle to endure in these harsh conditions and to rebuild their lives afterward in the face of lingering prejudice. Rejected by several nursing schools due to her ethnicity, Kiyo eventually became a captain in the Army Nursing Corps. The Satos returned home to find their farm in ruins, occupied by another family, but through fortitude and ingenuity, they persevered and ultimately succeeded.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press (April 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569475695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569475690
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #491,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Kiyo's Story is unforgettable."—Sacramento News & Review

"Touching . . . an important portrait of a shameful period in American history."—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Kiyo Sato: Kiyo Sato was born in California in 1923. She received a B.S. from Hillsdale College and a Master's in Nursing from Western Reserve University. She attained the rank of captain in the USAF Nurse Corps and is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Nisei Post 8985, in Sacramento. During her career as a public health nurse, she developed the award-winning Blackbird Vision System for detecting eye problems in young children.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a "must read" book April 24 2009
By ruff - Published on
This is a book that belongs in every library, especially school libraries. It is the story of a Japanese man who came to the United States as a 14 year old boy, returned to Japan to marry his bride,returned to the United States to raise a family of 9 high-achieving children on a farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. This poignant story is told by Kiyo Sato, the oldest of their children.It tells of how her family struggled to improve the land and make it productive.She tells of the internment without bitterness but with great sadness that her country could do this to her family. She tells of her parents' determina- tion that the children receive a good education and become good citizens.
They became nurses, scientists, secretaries, nurses, engineers. Five sons served in the military A daughter served as a Captain in the Air Force Nurse Corp. She tells the story of her family and remarkable father simply and lovingly. It is what it is...the story of a family who overcame almost unsurmountable odds and never gave up on America.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Give Up! True Triumph Over Adversity June 3 2009
By Danalee Lavelle - Published on
I bought this book locally on May 30th, 2009; I finished it on June 2nd, 2009. I can only say I was moved to tears many times reading this book. The Sato family survived an American Holocaust that no family should've been subjected to; yet, thousands were. As a resident of Sacramento, my reading about the places of Kiyo's childhood that I was vaguely familiar with, brought them to life. Weaving her family's legacy with her father's Haiku was a delightful addition to the already moving story. Kiyo truly brought her parents back to life with this book. It is a wonderful tribute to the strength and spirit of a beautiful couple who put their trust in a God, even when other Christians were treating them abominably. Even after the war years, the family was treated badly. Reading about the unscrupulous actions of local business giants and their attempts to squeeze the Sato family off their land made me ill. I certainly lost respect for some of the County Board of Supervisors I have known through the years. Thank you, Kiyo, for opening your heart and soul and sharing the legacy of your family. As you indicated in closing, the Sato family is truly Americanized (in the best sense)--a wonderful diversity of cultures and ethnicities--all of whom can point to the fortitude of Shinji and Tomomi Sato, the strong roots of their glorious family tree.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See reviews of Dandelion Through the Crack Jan. 23 2009
By Kenneth Umbach - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kiyo's Story is a new edition of Dandelion Through the Crack, with some minor edits, new typesetting, new cover design. Same great book otherwise.

See the reviews of Kiyo Sato's Dandelion Through the Crack, as all are equally pertinent to the new edition.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kiyo's Story Aug. 28 2011
By Terri Merritts - Published on
I recently read Kiyo's Story and I still lie in bed at night thinking about Kiyo and her family. My father was very young when he was drafted into World War 2 and sent from California to the Pacific theater to battle the Japanese. He knew the terror of kamikaze pilots making suicide runs and he knew the agony of being seriously injured (left untreated) and being a prisoner of war of very cruel Japanese soldiers. What he did NOT know was how to hate all Japanese for the actions of some.

My father grieved and raged over the USA committing a human rights violation by dropping atomic weapons on CIVILIAN targets and killing innocent babies, toddlers, school kids, housewives, grandmas and grandpas, the handicapped, Downs Syndrome teens and other noncombatants (the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor- a military installation) and he equally grieved and raged over the treatment and incarceration and hatred of Japanese-Americans, noting that we were also fighting Germany and Italy but did not set up concentration camps for German-Americans and Italian-Americans. It was a clear case of racism and bigotry.

Daddy died over 20 years ago but he would have cried over this book just as I did. I loved this family and am one white Atheist who would have felt honored to be friends with these Japanese christians had I lived at the time all of this happened.

Kiyo has put a personal face and story to the racist confinement of Japanese Americans during World War 2. The book is so warm and loving, full of grace and class. This family is just classy in every way. They are a family like any other and their ethnicity should not be grounds for hatred and prejudice. I was absorbed in their personal story. This story is so inspiring and encouraging and shows what family life can be. This family loved and enjoyed one another and the parents showed such care to their kids and a wonderful example of work ethics and a love of education.

You will want to read this. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. You will come away feeling like you have just paid a visit to a pleasant family friend and you will grow emotionally for having had the pleasure. Every American child needs to have this book as required reading in high school.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, loyalty, family, nation Sept. 23 2013
By Matt Beatty - Published on
I loved this story so much more than I thought it would. It was a random recommendation from my dad, and then my wife read it first and I finally got to it quite a bit later, just because. For no good reason.

And I am lucky for doing so. Kiyo's tale is about family. There is history, much of the Japanese internment and Japanese-American relations (or lack thereof) in the 20th century. There is farming and hard work, the American dream perched on the backs of industrious and persistent immigrants, people with dedication, loyalty, and love--to their families, their dogs, their newly adopted nation, to any spot of land that could be called theirs.

More than inspiring. I felt encouraged to work harder, love deeper, and experience fuller. I will be a better father, tell my children more stories, work and play with them more. (Kiyo's mother and father were apparently some of the truest saints in this world.)

I finished this at 3:30 am, weeping. That's a little hard to admit, maybe, but I felt such a deep appreciation for people and family and love, life and living it. Potential. History under the asphalt, history for every person living or dead, told and untold, remembered and forgotten. This book is a gift to Kiyo's family. It's a history of good people, the best. I want to visit the very few remnants of their family farm near Mather Field, maybe find one of those long-abandoned almond trees in the high weedy grass and just sit under it, put my hands in the fallow red soil that was once turned fecund by the toils of gentle souls.

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