Friday, June 25, 2010

Historical Fiction Hit: The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson

I wasn't expecting much from this to be perfectly honest. My mother found an arc and passed it on to me and upon first glance, I thought it too childish for me. I needed a quick, uncomplicated read just until I could pick up my library books but ended up reading it all day and the library books just sat there.

It is written just like a girl's diary. The diary writer is Piper and she resides in Seattle and it is 1941. Her brother has joined the Navy and is stationed in Pearl Harbor, her father is a minister to a congregation of Japanese people, and life is about to get complicated. When her brother's boat is hit in Pearl Harbor, Piper worries sick about her brother, Hank. It takes forever to find out the details and who survived and who didn't. Meanwhile, in Seattle, caucasians have turned against the Japanese, even the American born. Even tho Piper is worried about her brother and is upset over the Japanese having possibly harmed him, she questions the sudden prejudicy around her. She goes to school and church with these people. They aren't spies..

The American government doesn't see it the same way as Piper does tho. And soon the Japanese are ordered to report for removal. They have one week before they must leave their homes with only what they can carry.
A picture of the Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1 on Brainbridge Island

Most of Piper's Japanese friends end up at Minidoka, a relocation camp near Twin Falls Idaho. Piper's dad decides to follow his congregation with a reluctant Piper in tow. Rather than give away too much information, I will just say that this novel sums up very well a pretty much unknown (untalked about may be a better word) but very important part of American history. Thru Piper's diary, we see the prejudice, the hate, the appalling conditions that the American Japanese faced during this time.


Not all the diary is serious tho. Piper has a school crush, wants to wear lipstick, has a best friend, makes new best friends, and deals with moving to a new place as well as fancies becoming a professional photographer. I also want to mention the historical information and photos in the back of the book. Terrific stuff!

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