Author: Julie Otsuka
Publication Date: 2002
Number of Pages: 144
Part of a Series: No
- Adult books for young adults
- Japanese Americans
- Concentration Camps
- Japanese-American Internment
- Historical Fiction—Literary Historical Novels—United States—20th Century
- United States, World War II
- Internment Camp
- War Stories
Geographical Setting/ Time Period: United States, World War II
- A mother, who must pack up her family’s home when the relocation order is given.
- A girl, 10 years old at the beginning of the story, she likes boys, jump rope, and making up stories.
- A boy, 7 years old at the beginning of the story, he wears a fedora given to him by his father, likes horses and dreams of heroes and outlaws.
- A father, who writes letters to his family once a week. They are marked “Detained Enemy Alien Mail.”
Plot Summary: In spring of 1942, a woman headed to the library sees a sign in the post office window. She turns back home to pack. She is a Japanese woman who has been living in the United States for the last 20 years. Her husband has already been taken by the FBI, accused of treason in the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She and her children will now leave their white stucco house in Berkeley, California, carrying one suitcase each, and be sent to live in a crowded camp in the Utah desert.
Appeal: Simply and beautifully written story of the hardship and loss experienced by Japanese families during World War II. Each of the five chapters is from a different perspective. Lyrical, spare writing style.
Brief quote: “The boy played marbles on the laundry room floor. He played Chinese checkers. He roamed through the barracks with the other boys in his block, playing cops and robbers and war. Kill the Germans! Kill the Japs!”
Prizes or Awards:
Alex Award, 2003 (recognizes outstanding adult books for teens);
Booklist Editor’s Choice—Best Fiction Books, 2002;
Booklist Editor’s Choice—Adult Books for Young Adults, 2002;
New York Times notable books—Fiction an d Poetry, 2002.
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Watatsuki Houston (memoirs of WWII internment camps,);
Legend of Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Watatsuki Houston (historical fiction, Japanese-American families, WWII,);
A Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese-Americans during World War II by Ellen Levine (non-fiction account of WWII internment camps, used as a source by the author),
White Rose: Una Rosa Blanca (poetic, spare language, literary historical fiction)
Reviewer’s Name: Joy Woods
Adapted from Saricks, Joyce G. and Nancy Brown. Readers= Advisory Service in the Public Library 2nd. Chicago: ALA, 1997.