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YA Review: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Title: We Are Not Free
Author: Traci Chee
Year published: 2020
Category: YA fiction (historical)
Pages: 378 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (CA, WA, MS), France, and Italy

Summary: Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

Review: I have read a number of books about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, all of which were good. (links to my reviews: Within These Lines; When the Emeror Was Devine; The War Outside; They Called Us Enemy; Displacement; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet; This Light Between Us; )But this one is particularly well done. 

I love that it follows 14 friends, each of whom gets at least one chapter to tell their story. We learn how they felt about it, how it impacted their family, their interactions with the authorities and their own friends. Each character has a slightly different experience though they all have the same themes.

I know this history well, but many Americans do not learn about this in their high school history classes. I was shocked when my daughter went to college and learned that she had classmates who hadn't been taught about this. Outrageous! I suppose with the current political climate in the US there will be more ignorance about our past.

This novel is well written, emotional, fun, heartwarming, and it will leave you frustrated with the behavior of the US government and most of its white citizens. It's an important read and well worth the time.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Literary Escapes--Mississippi

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