The Invisible Thread Critical Essays

Yoshiko Uchida


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The title of the story, The Invisible Thread, refers to the bond between the Japanese and American aspects of Uchida’s world. As a child, she developed an awareness of the dichotomy between the American and Japanese parts of her life, and this dichotomy figured strongly in Uchida’s search for self-identity. In choosing events to include in her autobiography, Uchida concentrates specifically on stories that illustrate this duality. She felt divided: Although she considered herself American, she still had to worry about whether neighbors would object to a Japanese family moving in next door, and she asked “Do you cut Japanese hair?” when she went for her first professional haircut. While many young adults do not have such obvious differences with the society in which they live, they are confronting their own sense of alienation and search for self-identity and will find much in common with Uchida’s struggles.

Structurally, the book has two sections, although it is formally divided only into chapters. The first part of the book relates events typical of Uchida’s background and how these events influenced the person she became. Each chapter is a collection of memories around a theme or event—what Sundays were like in the Japanese community, her parents’ history, family vacations, a visit to Japan. Uchida adopts a nostalgic tone in these stories, one anecdote leading to another and all illustrating experiences that Uchida believes shaped her life. While her stories progress through time, they do not form a strictly chronological narrative. Such events as visits from Japanese guests and Sunday activities remained constant throughout Uchida’s early life. She...

(The entire section is 691 words.)