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No-No Boy
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No-No Boy

John Okada (Author)
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews


"Asian American readers will appreciate the sensitivity and integrity with which the late John Okada wrote about his own group. He heralded the beginning of an authentic Japanese American literature."-Gordon Hirabayashi, Pacific Affairs "Nisei will recognize the authenticity of the idioms Okada's characters use, as well as his descriptions of the familiar Issei and Nisei mannerisms that make them come alive. "-Bill Hosokawa, Pacific Citizen

Product Description

John Okada was born in Seattle, Washington in 1923. He attended the University of Washington and Columbia University. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, wrote one novel and died of a heart attack at the age of 47. John Okada died in obscurity believing that Asian America had rejected his work.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (February 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295955252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295955254
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon.com Sales Rank: #32,738 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

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    #1 in  Books > Teens > Social Issues > Prejudice > Fiction
    #40 in  Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Asian American

More About the Author

John Okada
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Inside This Book (learn more)
First Sentence:
TWO WEEKS AFTER his twenty-fifth birthday, Ichiro got off a bus at Second and Main in Seattle. Read the first page
Key Phrases - Capitalized Phrases (CAPs): (learn more)
Jackson Street, Club Oriental, Ichiro Yamada, Jim Eng, Pearl Harbor, Professor Brown
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Customer Reviews

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Average Customer Review
4.2 out of 5 stars (36 customer reviews)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel that should be taught in schools more often!, May 26, 1999
By A Customer
In my AP English Literature class, I had a choice of reading any novel of "literary merit" I wanted, and to complete a 25 page analysis of the novel. Of the four books I analyzed in this way this year, No-No Boy was by far my favorite. I am caucasian, yet have always been interested in the dark side of America's role in World War II - the Japanese internment camps. This book is a vivid portrayal of one young man's suffering due to his decision not to swear loyalty to a country that had foresaken his rights as a citizen, and the consequences that result from this decision. Okada deals with a very touchy subject in this novel, for both the white and Japanese-American communities. Ichiro's self-inflicted punishment helps the reader to realize just how awful this experience was for the real No-no boys. This realistic portrayal is rather ironic, since Okada himself chose to serve the United States loyally in the army during World War II. Perhaps this novel was written from the side of him that related more to his Japanese roots than to his newfound American identity, and the guilt he himself must have carried when serving in the Pacific, telling Japanese to surrender in their own language. Okada also deals with a seemingly untouchable issue - that of the discrimination the Japanese-Americans themselves practiced toward other U.S. citizens, although they faced discrimination themselves. This adds to the truthfulness of the novel. Perhaps the only disappointing aspect to the novel is the all-American, happy ending that seems a little too contrived, although it must have been necessary for Okada to write the novel this way in order to gain any readers, because the novel's subject was so controversial at the time it was written. This novel should be taught in high schools and universities across the country, in American literature courses, and not just Asian-American literature courses. Now, multicultural education movements have succeeded in gaining the teaching of more women and African-American writers' novel, but Asian-American literature has still been neglected. The tolerance and understanding that students will gain from reading this novel should be evident immediately after one has read No-No Boy, even though the novel is enjoyable and is hardly preachy-sounding.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Look At Life For Japanese-Americans after WWII, August 10, 2004
Ichiro, the main character in John Okada's novel, "The No-No Boy", is put an a very unusual situation - because of his past decisions a lot of his peers do not accept him as Japanese or American.

John Okada does a brilliant job of getting the reader to empathize with the Ichiro's struggle to find direction after being held in an internment camp (jail) for two years. His mother is happy he made the decision to refuse service in the United States Army, his brother believes him a coward, and his father has turned to whiskey for comfort from the constant tug-o-war created by war. He has friends who have sacificed more than he, but are satisfied with his decision to not go to war, and he has friends who never tasted true battle but despise him for not doing so.

At times, I was getting bored with Ichiro's constant whining about his predicament, but Okada did a good job of easing up the saga when it was almost too much and then bringing it back when necessary.

It must have been difficult to try and live in a country that believed you had to prove your loyalty because people who looked like you had attacked your nation of birth. This novel does a good job of making one think about the struggles Japanese-American went through before, during, and after the war.

Okada manages to create dialogue that is not so predictable it becomes a too easy of a read. He keeps the characters in this novel above the routine writing style of most authors.

This book is easy to read, thought-provoking, and contains enough fictional and non-fictional information to make for an entertaining novel.

See ya next review!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Loyalty and Identity for Japanese Americans during WWII, July 19, 1997
By A Customer
It is sad that John Okada wrote only one novel in his life, but it gives me great joy just to mention this book to anyone. _No-No Boy_ is a novel that deals with the high emotions of those felt by Japanese Americans during the tumulous times of the second world war. It is a time when American citizens are incarcerated into "relocation centers" without any wrong doing except that their last names were Okada, Sone, and Ikeda. However, as John Okada traces the story of Kenji, a nisei who refused to answer yes to the loyalty questionaire, we do not feel any strong bitterness about the whole situation that could be all too common in such a text. This touching novel is ultimately about one's search for a home, for loyalty, and for acceptance into society. These themes, while prevalent in many Japanese American texts written about this time period, are universal and can be shared by anyone who has ever felt the pangs of loneliness associated with being an outcast. If anyone is interested in reading more about fiction, good fiction on these issues, there is no book I could recommend more highly than this one. John Okada's book is the ultimate in Asian American literature and should be required reading for all those who want to read more about American history and American literature
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars The Not-so good book
I read this book, and couldn't figure out what Okada was trying to tell the reader. He is all over the place. Read more
Published on August 25, 2007 by DCCircuitBoy

5.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming.
In general, John Okada may have created one of the greatest piece of fiction I have ever read in the Asian American diaspora. Read more
Published on February 18, 2007 by Larry

4.0 out of 5 stars Another side of the story
I have read many books dealing with the Japanese internment during WWII and the aftermath, but this book was the first I have seen that tells a very different story. Read more
Published on March 25, 2006 by Bonnie Eisenberg

2.0 out of 5 stars Ugh ...
This book stinks, the plot is trivial, the characters suck, and the chapters go on and on and on and on and on about nothing, nothing at all. Read more
Published on January 31, 2006 by R. Brown

4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on No-No Boy
John Okada's No-No Boy is an interesting perspective into Japanese-American life post WWII. The reader explores the protagonist Ichiro's struggles with being a "No No boy," or... Read more
Published on December 12, 2005 by Jessica B.

4.0 out of 5 stars No-No Boy: Forgiveness, Healing, and History
Many modern Americans are unaware that their own nation interned the entire Japanese population following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Read more
Published on December 5, 2005 by Rebecca J. Hefty

5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Work Full of Heart...Brilliant Novelist!
Just finished this novel discovering it quite 'suddenly' on the end of a bookstore shelf. The cover kind was a bit frightful so I passed on my intuition... Read more
Published on November 5, 2005 by BeadMoonStardust

3.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge this book by its cover!
The cover is awful. I would have passed right by this disturbing picture and moved on to something more appealing. Fortunately, I had to read this for a class. Read more
Published on September 20, 2005 by Joan Zabelka

5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Okada-san...
I am a (real) Japanese, living around Tokyo now, and stayed in Seattle several years ago.
Funny, during my stay there, I had no interest in Japanese-American history and... Read more
Published on May 19, 2005 by Etsuko Nishiki

3.0 out of 5 stars Mis-History Again
It's fascinating the cyclical nature of the universe from the shape of a whirlpool to shape of a hurricane to the shape of the galaxies themselves---all things spiral. Read more
Published on January 20, 2005 by Tigua A. Naghel

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