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Torn Apart

Torn Apart
The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi

By Susan Aihoshi

ISBN: 978-0-439-94660-5 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-443-11922-1 Ebook
216 pages | Ages 8-12 | 5 3/8" x 7 5/8"

When Japan attacks Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, everything changes for Mary, who had a happy life with her family in Vancouver. A war of suspicion and prejudice is suddenly waged against Japanese Canadians and they are stripped of their rights, their jobs and their homes. Mary and her sisters are sent to an internment camp, and she fears she may never see her parents again.

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From Mary's diary:


Went to choir practice with Maggie and Sachi. Just made it home before it was totally dark. Blackout’s on again tonight — it’s so depressing. I’ve done all my homework and am going to bed!

Thursday, December 11

The United States has declared war on Germany and Italy. I feel like the world has gone crazy.

But one good thing happened today. The milkman was delivering our bottles as I was about to leave for school this morning. He asked me to tell my parents he’s sorry some people are so negative about the Japanese here in Vancouver. He said they’re his best customers and the nicest people! I thanked him and ran in to tell Mama and Papa. That cheered them up for a little while at least.

Friday, December 12

Papa went back to work today! Mr. Cowan couldn’t spare him any longer. Now that winter’s almost here, lots of people are sick with colds and flu. I hope that Harry doesn’t catch anything. Papa doesn’t give out any medicines because no Japanese Canadians in B.C. can get a pharmacist’s licence, but Mr. Cowan says he really needs Papa back to take orders and help prepare the prescriptions. Which reminds me, Papa made us start taking a daily dose of Wampole’s Vitamin Tonic this morning — ugh! But Maggie’s mother always gives her cod liver oil — double ugh! — so I shouldn’t complain.

After supper I read the New Canadian. The news is all discouraging. Eighteen hundred fishermen are out of work along with fifty newspaper workers (and that includes Mama!) and all the Japanese schoolteachers. Section hands and redcaps were dismissed from the CPR, bellhops fired from the hotels, sawmill hands laid off. Somebody set fire to a rooming house on Alexander Street and smashed windows in some West End and Grandview shops. All because the workers or business owners are Japanese!

It makes me feel sick. How can anybody do such dreadful things? How will people who have lost their jobs pay their bills and buy food for their families? We’ve heard about some awful things happening to Jewish people in Germany because of the Nazis, like being confined to just certain areas in the cities. That sounded so far away until now. I keep telling myself at least we live in Canada and those things can’t possibly happen to us.

Sunday, December 14

Father Benedict’s sermon about Pearl Harbor this morning made me cranky, but I forgot about it once I got home. Spent the entire weekend helping with the Christmas baking. It kept my mind off worrying! The girls even came over to help yesterday because Kay was working. Emma made plum pudding, while Mama did the Christmas cakes. Maggie and Sachi mixed cookie dough while Ellen and I rolled it and cut out the shapes. Harry helped us decorate them. We saved up our sugar for this, but at least it hasn’t been rationed like in England. The house smelled so good!

From Dear Canada: Torn Apart. Text copyright © 2012 by Susan Aihoshi. All rights reserved.