We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. Grades 7+. HMH Books for Young Readers. September 2020. Review copy provided by publisher.
So, this book didn't have me at hello. It took me a little bit to get into it, but after the first chapter or two I couldn't put it down. This book is a masterpiece. It's not only a brilliant piece of historical fiction that brings the Japanese incarceration during WWII to brutal light for young readers, but it's a striking portrait of teen life. These kids are living in desert camps in the 1940s, but they're also falling in love and rebelling against their parents and playing sports and staying out too late and trying to figure out their futures.
Each chapter is narrated by a different teen and the story unfolds over the years Japanese Americans (American citizens!) were held in prison camps. I wasn't sure how I would like that many narratives, but I loved that each chapter is unique and the narrators really stand out. It's an amazing accomplishment of writing.
Hand this to fans of Ruta Sepetys, particularly her works that are told from multiple perspectives like Salt to the Sea and The Fountains of Silence. I would also hand it to fans of George Takei's wonderful graphic novel memoir They Called Us Enemy.
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