The House on Lemon Street Japanese Pioneers and The American Dream

Review :

This book was one of those unexpected surprises. I expected it to be a dry academic story of one modest house, one that was at the center of a 1915 court battle between an immigrant man and the state of California, where the Alien Land Law was instituted to keep undesirable aliens out. But this story proved itself to be much more. This is a story of the American Dream and the price we must all be willing to pay to keep that dream alive. Rawitsch is not the most lyrical writer but he does bring alive the eras this house survived. I was especially intrigued by the many characters and their stories. The hard working immigrants, their hopes for their American-born children, the ambition to own their own home, the tensions between the many ethnic groups in this young country, local businessmen, the young Hollywood and its first big movie "The Birth of a Nation", the effect of the wars, and the tragic internment of American citizens who happened to look like the enemy. Especially moving were the accounts of the last resident of the House on Lemon Street, a shy, elderly Japanese-American woman, and the writer, a long-haired "hippie"who overcame Sumi's reluctance to share this remarkable true story and succeed in having the House designated as a National Historical Landmark.


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