Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Genre

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Genre

Autobiography; Young Adult Literature; Coming-of-Age; Family Drama

Autobiography

Let's see. The book is written by Jeanne (who is one of the authors) and dwells on Jeanne's feelings, thoughts, and experiences during and after World War II. And of course, it all actually happened (we assume she's not lying to us). Add this all up, and we've got ourselves an autobiography for sure.

Young Adult Literature

You don't get more young adult than with a narrator/writer who devotes the last third of the book to her best friend drama and the pursuit of her "schoolgirl's dream" (2.21.7) of becoming (essentially) a prom queen. This is the kind of stuff that only comes up when you're a young adult or when your audience is mostly young adults.

Coming-of-Age

We've got the main character/narrator—Jeanne—going from second grade to junior high to high school and then to adulthood, and in the middle of all this growth are self-reflections on who she's becoming. It's pretty much textbook coming of age material. Plus, we also get to see Jeanne's older brother Woody turn from a young, easygoing jokester into a mature soldier willing to represent his family in Japan. It's like a two-for-one coming-of-age story.

Family Drama

We've got an abusive alcoholic father, a self-sacrificing mother, an awesome older brother/substitute father figure, and eight other siblings. In other words, this book pretty much has to be a family drama—you just can't have that much family and no family drama, you know? Throw a mass internment of Japanese-American people that emasculates the head honcho of the family (Papa), and you've got some serious soap opera material going on.