Capturing the Rhythm of
Downtown Santa Monica
Santa Monica Centric
'Farewell to Manzanar' is the 2018 Santa Monica Reads Book selection
By Kevin Herrera

(In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of 10 camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were incarcerated during World War II. Photo courtesy National Parks Service.)


For the 16th anniversary of Santa Monica Public Library's annual community reading program Santa Monica Reads residents will be challenged with some heavy material.


"Farewell to Manzanar," by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, covers the period during World War II when tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were rounded up and interned in camps. Many lost their businesses, homes and their lives.


First published in 1973, and now celebrating its 45th anniversary, "Farewell to Manzanar" has sold more than one million copies. The book remains an invaluable contribution to the annals of American history.  


As a 7-year-old girl, Jeanne's world is turned upside down when the Wakatsuki family is forced to leave their home in Ocean Park and their fishing business in Long Beach to move to the high desert internment camp of Manzanar. The narrative is told from Jeanne's perspective, as she recounts the struggles and resilience of her family and the camp community.


Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston has earned numerous honors, including a United States-Japan Cultural Exchange Fellowship; a Rockefeller Foundation residence at Bellagio, Italy; and a 1984 Wonder Woman Award, given to women over 40 who have made outstanding achievements in pursuit of truth and positive social change. In 2006, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston received the Award of Excellence for her contributions to society from the Japanese American National Museum. 


Free copies of "Farewell to Manzanar," as well as a resource guide that provides information on the book, its author and Santa Monica Reads events, will be available at all Santa Monica Public Library locations while supplies last.


Santa Monica Reads is sponsored by the Santa Monica Public Library and the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library, with additional support from other community, educational and business partners.


This year's Santa Monica Reads program runs through Saturday, June 16.


For a list of free community events centered around the novel, click here.


Santa Monica Reads Grand Finale: An LA Opera Concert— The Library presents a live concert featuring LA Opera artists performing some of opera's greatest hits, including highlights from "Madame Butterfly." Free tickets available one hour prior to program. 
Saturday, June 16 at 2pm | Main Library, MLK, Jr. Auditorium. 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

Santa Monica Reads book discussions are hosted by trained discussion facilitators and are free and open to the public. Discussion participants are encouraged to share their thoughts about "Farewell to Manzanar" and its themes, or are welcome to simply listen and learn more about the book.   


Downtown discussion: Tuesday, June 12 at 7pm | Main Library, Multipurpose Room, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

This article was repurposed from a City of Santa Monica press release.


First published in 1973, and now celebrating its 45th anniversary, "Farewell to Manzanar" has sold more than one million copies.

Kevin Herrera is a former journalist turned marketing and communication expert, beer enthusiast, cyclist, cultural observer/commentator and expert on all things Downtown Santa Monica. He is currently the sr. marketing & communication manager for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.