Kiyo’s Story: A Memoir

Written by Kiyo Sato
Review by Viviane Crystal

“Last year, my winning essay, ‘What America Means to Me,’ placed in our school’s finals. This year I am branded a ‘non-alien,’ no longer a citizen, and banished. To where?” Kiyo Sato, the daughter of John and Tomomi Sato, skillfully charts the lives of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-American children from 1911 to 1980 in western America. Yes, this is the story of another Japanese family forced into interment camps during the World War II years, but it’s so much more. The tale begins with John and Tomomi raising their nine American-born children in what becomes a successful farm and loving home in California. The dream seems to crash on February 19, 1942, when FDR signs Executive Order 9066, banishing over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry into internment camps, but the Sato family continues to flourish with their courageous attitude in dealing with the inescapable and working with the deplorable camp conditions. Kiyo’s narrative account transcends the expected and understandable bitterness of other accounts of these horrendous years for Japanese-Americans. Kiyo’s Story is moving, triumphant, and graceful, deserving wide recognition as the superb Japanese-American historical memoir it is.