A book is “worthy” to me if I cannot get it out of my head for its beauties and truisms, if it makes me learn about someone’s unexpected heroism in endurance or grants me a perspective of life hitherto unconsidered. That is what happened with Winter Always Turns to Spring. Written by Dr. Akemi Bailey Haynie in the voice of her mother, Sachiko Takata Bailey, the memoir begins with a fourteen-year-old Japanese girl who lived about fifty miles from Hiroshima at the time of the atom bomb blast.
Sachiko’s male relatives went into Hisoshima after the catastrophe, sometimes daily, in order to locate survivors. They did not realize how dangerous the radioactivity was to them. When she was older, Sachiko’s altruistic nursing of American soldiers brought her into contact with LeRoy Bailey, a strapping young MP. He was by far the most persistent wooer of the beautiful young Japanese woman; he won her hand.
Together they overcame the hurdle of paperwork to get married. Once Sachiko Bailey reached her husband’s hometown, she faced with a new assortment of unexpected problem–primarily, discrimination and poverty. She also faced the first profound instance of her husband’s casual attitude towards truth. He had told her he came from a “big city with big lights.” This was a blatant lie.
Gradual understanding of her situation for Sachiko was sobering. For one thing, she could not go home. The reader senses this without the point needing to be underlined. I loved this memoir. It captures the dilemma of so many brides, war brides in particular, who have come across unexpected cross-cultural dilemmas, social discrimination, and domestic abuse. Sachiko had a lot to cope with from LeRoy, but her Japanese cultural background and her turning to Nichiren Buddhism helped her both endure and grow.
I was amazed at Sachiko’s innovative approaches to allay if not overcome poverty. This memoir teaches that endurance is not surrender. Sachiko’s decision to stay with an abusive African-American husband does not end as badly as it might have. The way this resourceful family coped with their biculturalism was inspirational. The children formed a singing group called Takata, and it was quite successful for years.
The power Sachiko demonstrated to adjust her perceptions throughout life for the sake of truth, coping, and spiritual growth is astounding.The editor, Layberry, suggests that this memoir provides a valuable glimpse into American history. I completely agree. It is that and so much more.
Winter Always Turns to Spring shows what the Japanese war brides who came to the USA from a background of subservience and repression hoped to find and had to withstand. Sachiko’s spirit is demonstrated in the fact that she blames war and not the USA for the double catastrophes of Hiroshima and Nagasake.