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We Are Not Free
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We Are Not Free
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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST PRINTZ HONOR BOOK WALTER HONOR BOOK 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...
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST PRINTZ HONOR BOOK WALTER HONOR BOOK 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...
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  • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
    PRINTZ HONOR BOOK
    WALTER HONOR BOOK

    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.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Traci Chee is a New York Times bestselling author of the YA fantasy trilogy- The Reader, The Speaker, and The Storyteller which were shortlisted and nominated for multiple awards and accolades. In We Are Not Free, Chee changes gears, pulling from her own family history in this stunning and evocative novel, one that resonates so deeply against today's tumultuous political backdrop. Visit her at www.tracichee.com, on Twitter @tracichee and on Facebook and Instagram @TraciCheeAuthor.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2020

    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.-DeHanza Kwong, Butte Public Library, MT

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from April 1, 2020
    Grades 8-12 *Starred Review* Chee is a master storyteller, as the Reader trilogy aptly demonstrates. Here, she uses her own San Francisco-based Japanese American family's history to inform a blazing and timely indictment of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Her passion and personal involvement combine with her storytelling talents to create a remarkable and deeply moving account of the incarceration. The interconnected stories of 14 very different teenage individuals beautifully demonstrate the disintegration of family life in the camps, a phenomenon often addressed in nonfiction accounts but not so well depicted in fiction?until now. In a culture where the influence of parents and grandparents was all-important, life behind barbed wire destroyed that dynamic, with peer influence and friendships taking precedence. It's as if S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders met Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's Farewell to Manzanar. Despite the large cast, Chee's clear chapter headings, vivid characterizations, and lively portrayals of very diverse characters enable readers to easily identify the nonstereotyped teens. Chee also incorporates many different media types: telegrams, newspapers, postcards, drawings, and maps all help to drive and deepen the story. A short but excellent bibliography and thoughtful author's notes round out what should become required curriculum reading on a shameful and relevant chapter in U.S. history.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 6, 2020
    Spanning three years, from March 1942 to March 1945, Chee’s accomplished novel about America’s treatment of Japanese Americans is told by 14 Nisei teenagers who have grown up together in San Francisco’s Japantown. The book traces their varied trajectories, beginning with their initial deportation to a nearby incarceration camp, then a second move to the more developed compound of Topaz City, Utah, where prisoners are forced to pledge loyalty to the U.S. or to Japan through a questionnaire, and “No-Nos”—those who refuse U.S. allegiance and military service—are deported to yet another camp. Inspired by Chee’s family history, the book powerfully depicts, as an author’s note states, “a mere fraction of what this generation went through.” Varying between first-, second-, and third-person narration; letters and verse; and even one chapter told by “all of us,” each interconnected story has a distinct voice (a provided “Character Registry” is useful for keeping track of the many characters and relationships). The individual tales are well crafted and emotionally compelling, and they resolve into an elegant arc. Ambitious in scope and complexity, this is an essential contribution to the understanding of the wide-ranging experiences impacting people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. during WWII. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Agency.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2020
    Young Japanese Americans tell of life during World War II. In San Francisco's Japantown, a group of teens has grown up together and become like family. But life in America after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor is dangerous for them. They and their families are taken to the Topaz incarceration camp in Utah, where the harsh conditions and injustices they experience turn their worlds upside down. They draw some comfort in being together--however, a government questionnaire causes rifts: Loyalties are questioned, lines are drawn, and anger spills over, threatening to destroy the bonds that once held them together. The teens are forced apart, some enlisting in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team while the No-Nos (those who refuse to serve in the U.S. military and swear allegiance solely to the U.S. government) are relocated to the Tule Lake camp, and others, whose families passed background checks, are allowed to resettle in locations around the country. This is a compelling and transformative story of a tragic period in American history. Written from the 14 young people's intertwining points of view, each character fills in a segment of time between 1942 and 1945. The styles vary, including both first- and second-person narration as well as verse and letters. Each voice is powerful, evoking raw emotions of fear, anger, resentment, uncertainty, grief, pride, and love. Historical photographs and documents enhance the text. An unforgettable must-read. (author's note, further reading, image credits) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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