Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Yoshiko Uchida’s The Invisible Thread describes her life as the daughter of Japa-nese parents growing up in Depression-era California. While Uchida’s story is autobiographical and told in the first person, she does not use a strict, chronological format. Rather, she relates events from her life as a series of reminiscences. Each of Uchida’s stories illustrates aspects of her life that contributed to the development of her identity as a Japanese American. Photographs of Uchida, her family and friends, and the places they lived illustrate the work.

Uchida begins her story by describing her average, American childhood in Berke-ley, California, during the Great Depression. Her portraits of her older sister, neighborhood friends, and life in the suburbs could apply to any child, but, as she also tells about her dissatisfaction with the endless stream of Japanese guests whom her parents entertain, it becomes clear that she must also reconcile two distinct cultures in her life. While Uchida found the visitors boring, for her parents these friends formed an “invisible thread” connecting Uchida’s parents to the country and customs that they had left behind. Anecdotes from the early part of Uchida’s life show that she absorbed much of her parents’ Japanese culture: food preferences such as sukiyaki, her mother’s Japanese poetry and stories, and customs such as bowing to acquaintances. When Uchida went to Japan on a trip, however, she felt...

(The entire section is 462 words.)