Despair and Hope: Hope Always Wins

Our Wednesday Fox asked, “What book changed how you see the world and why?” 

We’ve discussed favorite childhood books, compared books to their on-screen version, and even listed our all-time favorites, but this question really threw me for a loop. That’s probably because I don’t honestly think my way of seeing the world has changed much from the time I was very young. I’ve always been an optimist, and I’ve always generally been happy with my lot in life. I know that the world has evil people doing evil things, but I generally choose not to dwell on or read about them. So I guess the books that might have changed my outlook would be those about events that negatively impacted good people. But for every book that shows the negative side, there are one or more that show the good. 

Here’s an example: When I was in high school, the book Farewell to Manzanar was published. This story deals with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. My father and his family were fortunate enough not to be among them, due to the efforts of local clergy and politicians who convinced federal authorities that the family was not a national threat and could easily be monitored by local authorities. However, in the 1950s, two other Japanese American families settled in West Michigan who had been forced to live in those camps, and Farewell to Manzanar echoed what these people told us. I was so sad that people had to endure this injustice. I spent some time wondering if our family would be safe here. 

But then four years later, about the time I graduated from college, another book was released that changed my perspective. While Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes also showed the horrible effects of war, it also taught me that it did no good to worry about what might happen. Folding the paper cranes didn’t heal Sadako’s leukemia, but it gave her hope and purpose. Note: I learned later that the author fudged some facts: while Ms. Coerr wrote that Sadako folded some 600 cranes and her friends and family folded the rest and buried them with her, Sadako’s family says she actually completed almost 1400. No one knows why she wrote that ending, and the family says she never contacted them.

I think that in general, I’m drawn to stories that feature strong people who are doers. When the characters are strong, I’m inspired to be that way, too. Both the books I mentioned above highlight people who exhibit characteristics I admire, but while the first one made me anxious, the second one gave me a mission to never give up hope.

Have you read books that changed the way you looked at life?


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
This entry was posted in blessings, Books, Characters based on real people, Children's books, Dealing with stress, history, Patricia Kiyono and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Despair and Hope: Hope Always Wins

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    This topic, I suspect, will also throw ME for a loop. We’ll all have to tune in on Hound Day to see what I come up with.
    As for your first selection, here, I can only imagine the apprehension of your parents during that time… even though your father and uncle(s) served in America’s military.
    I suspect each member of your family has faced some degree of prejudice / discrimination… though hopefully lessening somewhat with each new generation.
    As for the other title: what a shame that the author neglected to contact the family and neglected to confirm a very significant, CENTRAL fact of that individual’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Yes, there have been times when our appearance affected the way people viewed and treated us, but we’ve learned to not let it bother us. And yes, our children and grandchildren – as far as we know – have endured less.
      With Sadako’s story, I found it very odd that there was no communication between the author and the subject’s family. One article surmised that the author felt her ending had more emotional impact. If so, I think I would have at least changed the names and some other details!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot imagine what Japanese Americans went through at the time, and I learned, some German-American familes.The unfairness is completely overwhelming.
    I cannot imagine why some writers change the best and truest of some people’s stories, and it happens all too often. Shanking my head!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’ve heard about German Americans being detained, too. It’s sad what fear will do to people’s sensibilities.
      Changing important details in a story about real events just doesn’t seem right!


  3. I have never read either book but they are ones that I am now going to look for.


  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’ve never read either book, but like Angela I now want to. I guess fear brings out the worst in people sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane Burton says:

    George Takei (Sulu on Star Trek) talks about his family’s incarceration at one of those camps. Heartbreaking what his family and others like his went through.


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