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The Bonus Book of the Week is “Heart of Fire, An Immigrant Daughter’s Story” by Mazie K. Hirono, published in 2021.
Hirono’s mother was born in Hawaii but moved back to live in a snowy, mountainous region of Japan, and suffered with an abusive husband who was also a drinker and gambler. It took months for her to make numerous visits to the United States embassy in Tokyo on an overnight train to do the necessary paperwork to move herself and two of her three surviving children, the oldest of whom was Hirono, to Hawaii.
Hirono was born in November 1947 in rural Japan. She spent four years of her early childhood living with her grandparents, who were landowners of rice paddies, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, and a farm that had chickens and goats.
In the 1900’s, people from various Asian countries populated Hawaii: Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos and native Hawaiians. But many of them worked for Caucasian sugar-plantation owners, and could not become naturalized American citizens under Hawaiian law until Hawaii became a state in August 1959.
In the summer of 1968, Hirono and nine other volunteers counseled at-risk youths in a special program in a homestead (high-crime, downtrodden neighborhood). They were out of their depth in attempting to stem the gang violence, crime, drug addiction and sexual assault.
Hirono did not have sufficient life experience and confidence in her abilities until much later, when she was elected to political office and became vocal in taking an active role in changing the world. Prior to that, she explained, “…I was still under the sway of a cultural triple whammy– I was a woman; I was of Japanese descent; and I had been raised in the nonconfrontational atmosphere of the Island I called home [Hawaii].”
Read the book to learn much more about Hirono’s life experiences.