Hey friends! I’m super excited about today’s post, as I really love and recommend this book! Definitely keep reading to find out more!
About the Book:
All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us.
We are not free.
But we are not alone.”
From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.
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.
About the Author:
Traci Chee is the New York Times best-selling author of The Reader trilogy. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. She is Japanese American and was inspired to write We Are Not Free by her family’s experience during World War II. Some of the events she includes in the book are loosely inspired by their stories. She loves books, poetry and paper crafts, as well as bonsai gardening and games. She lives in California.
This was a very emotional read for me, as a fellow Asian, and as someone who has lived their entire life in San Francisco. Of course, I learned about the internment camps that have now become a local mall near SF, but I never read such a personal and gripping account of the events leading up to the such camps, and all the aftermath. The descriptions of the city were so vivid, I could imagine myself walking down those exact streets like I have countless times before, but this time 75 years ago. Chee does not sugarcoat anything, and I found myself shedding tears at certain scenes, especially towards the end. I wish I had read more on the topic when I was younger, especially because of the fact that these things happened where I live today.
I see that most of the complaints come from the amount of perspectives in this book (there are fourteen), and while I did find the first shift in POV to be a little jarring, by the third shift I was super curious. I think that the multiple characters added an extra element to the book, emphasizing how different people cope and come together in such unfathomable situations. Minnow and Twitchy were my absolute favorite, they stood out the most, but all the perspectives were unique and interesting in their own way.
I honestly think this book should be taught in high school, especially my local schools. If you’re a fan of hard-hitting historical fiction, and are tired of the typical eurocentric perspective, this is definitely the book for you!
Thanks for reading this post!! If you’re going to or are interested in We Are Free, let me know in the comments!!