Kesaya Noda's mixed feelings about her family in “Growing Up Asian in America” stem for her lack of understanding about her Japanese heritage and how to combine that heritage with her American identity. She feels her inside and outside do not match. She looks Japanese and feels American. Furthermore, she does not understand her parents' and neighbors' passive acceptance of being transferred to an internment camp during World War II. Noda is angered by all these things.
But as Noda grows and learns, she begins to understand her family better, and she begins to embrace both sides of her identity. She travels to Japan, where she meets her extended family and is immersed in Japanese culture while also seeing how Western culture has influenced Japan. She becomes proud to be Japanese.
Noda also learns more and more about her parents' experiences during the war. She discovers that they were placed under a strict curfew, that their money was frozen, that people stole their property, that the police wouldn't help them, and that they couldn't travel more than five miles from home. Yet they still felt a strong desire to prove that they were American. So they obeyed, thinking that they would show their loyalty through their acceptance.
Finally, Noda looks around now as an adult, and she sees the closeness of her community, how people treat each other like family even though they are not related, and how they care for one another. This, too, is part of being Japanese American, and Noda is proud of it. She has worked through her mixed feelings and can now say that she is truly Japanese American.