Darryl Mori’s pick: Through Harsh Winters
I first read Through Harsh Winters when it happened to be a required text in an ethnic studies class I took in college back in 1989. It still sticks with me—even after all these years—and my well-worn copy sits on a shelf of favorite books that I have in a corner of my dining room.
If you’ve ever been given unsolicited-but-meaningful advice by a grandmother or mother, you'll probably find this wonderful book very moving and readable. Letting her mother’s own words and memories tell the story, Akemi Kikumura lovingly reveals her mother’s experiences of coming to America as a young immigrant and raising 13 children. Facing decades of poverty, hard physical labor, prejudice, and the loss of close family members, she ultimately triumphs. By sharing her life lessons, Michiko (“Mama”) Tanaka essentially speaks directly to you, the reader, and the effect is quite engaging.
I saw the strength of both of my immigrant grandmothers in some of her recollections, and I think people of many other backgrounds would find parallels to their own families as well. It’s an inspiring book!
Darryl Mori is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the Japanese American National Museum, the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, and UCLA, where he currently serves as Director of Professional Schools in Corporate, Foundation and Research Relations.