FICTION

We Are Not Free

HMH. Jun. 2020. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780358131434.
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Gr 7 Up–Fourteen teens form a bond growing up together in California. They go to school, work hard to be good kids in their community, and try their best to find happiness in various hobbies. American-born, they are of Japanese descent, and surrounded by people who do not trust their right to be in the U.S. World War II turns their already strained lives upside down. Taken and forced into desolate internment camps, these young kids must rally together as racism threatens to tear them apart. This novel evokes powerful emotions by using a variety of well-researched elements to tell the teens’ stories, creating a thorough picture of their thoughts and feelings through poetry, diary-style entries, and drawings. As Chee mentions in the author’s note, her family experienced the impact of being marked as “other” and therefore “dangerous,” and were forcibly uprooted from their homes and incarcerated in internment camps. The novel may be fiction, but it will be hard for readers not to fall deep into the harsh realities these teens face. The writing is engaging and emotionally charged, allowing the readers to connect with each character.
VERDICT Chee’s words are a lot to take in, but necessary and beautiful all the same. This remarkable book deserves to be in any library collection.

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