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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stubborn Twig - Lauren Kessler

Stubborn Twig is the Oregon Reads book for 2009, so my book club and another book club decided to read it and we got together for a discussion. It was exciting as a librarian to be part of this huge project. Here's what it says about Oregon Reads from their website:

About Oregon Reads

What if 50,000 Oregonians read the same book in our sesquicentennial year?

The Oregon Library Association wants to find out!

Oregon Reads 2009 is a community reads program that will take place in nearly every public library and in every county in Oregon during the state's sesquicentennial, January through April of 2009.

The selected book, Stubborn Twig by Eugene author Lauren Kessler is the true story of three generations of a Japanese-American family, spanning across the 20th century in Hood River, Portland and Eugene. Bat 6 by Virginia Euwer Wolff and Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson have also been selected as titles for younger readers for the Oregon Sesquicentennial.

All three titles are books with an uniquely Oregon focus: stories conveying an Oregon experience, approachable by readers throughout the state as well as by those with varying reading levels. All three titles are written by Oregon authors who will visit libraries throughout the state.

We invite Oregon libraries and the public to celebrate the 150th year of statehood by participating in this exciting program focusing on the Oregon experience.

I liked the book a lot, although it was a little slow in some parts and there was so much information that at times it was a little overwhelming. The book tells the story of a Japanese American family who came over from Japan to work and live in Oregon in the early 1900s. They settled in Hood River and ran a store as well as some orchards.

The Japanese in the US, including the Masuis, faced a lot of segregation and prejudice even before World War II, and then the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. When that happened, people in the US became very suspicious and fearful of Japanese people. They accused all people of Japanese descent, even those who were born here, of being spies for the Japanese government. So you can imagine how they were treated. NOT well. And the government took things a step further and put people of Japanese descent in internment camps. It was a terrible thing, and the Masui family, along with many, many others, was horribly impacted by it. It was a terrible time in our country's history, and a very important thing that many people know nothing about.

Our discussion for the book was fantastic! People had so many great insights and things to discuss. We talked about everything from parenting to education to journalism to reading. I, of course, love talking baout books, and the discussion about this book was particularly excellent. We also talked about this book as being the choice for Oregon Reads and whether we thought it was the best choice. for many reasons, we thought it was a good choice, but there were some things about it that might not make it the most accessible book for a wide range of readers. Do you have an idea of what might have been a good choice? Make a comment!

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