Yokohama Yankee: My Family's Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan, by Leslie Helm
Yokohama Yankee is unlike any memoir or family story I’ve every read: the elegant, skillful melding of a poignant story of the adoption of two Japanese children with the swashbuckling tales of a family that began in the 1870s when a German man married his Japanese housekeeper. Born and raised in the foreign enclave of Yokohama, Leslie Helm delves deep beneath the surface of Japan, weaving together that country’s ugly and beautiful aspects and its love-hate relations with “gaijin.” He analyzes himself and his family with an unflinching eye, producing a powerful, honest and self-reflective story that shows bitterness, family betrayal, a longing for belonging, and subtle tenderness. To say nothing of a mad samurai who committed murder and seppuku in the house of Helm’s great-grandfather!
The illustrations are magnificent and bring the history to life: not only family photographs but postcards and maps of old Yokohama, handwritten notes, wrenching wartime landscapes, and whimsical chapter headings inspired by postal stamps.
I highly recommend this book, which that will draw you in and take you on a journey to the long-ago and far-away – and bring you safely back to present-day America. Find out more at Leslie Helm's author website.