The Invisible Thread Critical Context - Essay

Yoshiko Uchida

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Yoshiko Uchida was a noted children’s author who published collections of Japanese stories for children and many stories with Japanese American protagonists. She also wrote other autobiographical works that focus specifically on her experiences in a relocation camp during World War II: Journey to Topaz (1971), Journey Home (1978), and Desert Exile (1982). Because relatively few works focusing on the Asian American experience exist for young adult readers, Uchida’s book is valuable for the insight that it gives. Another work that does focus on the Asian American experience is Laurence Yep’s autobiography The Lost Garden (1991), and Uchida and Yep share the common theme of searching for an identity between two cultures.

Uchida’s autobiography makes an important contribution to the literature available on World War II. While The Invisible Thread is factual, Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier (1973) presents a fictional account of how the war touched a young American girl in the United States. Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl (1947) makes less remote the tragedy of German concentration camps by allowing readers to develop a personal relationship with one of the victims of German injustice, while Uchida achieves much the same effect by providing an account by one of the victims of American injustice. The contrast between the situations provides young readers with the opportunity to examine war and its effects on people and governments.