by Stephanie Morrill
Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is quiet and ordinary … until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and the fact that interracial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and are incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp.
Degrading treatment at Manzanar Relocation Center is so difficult, Taichi doubts he will ever leave the camp alive. Treasured letters from Evalina are his sole connection to the outside world. Embracing the boldest action she can to help Taichi, Evalina begins to radically speak out at school and at home, shining a light on this dark and shameful racial injustice.
With their future together on the line, Evalina and Taichi can only hold true to their values and believe in their love against all odds to have any hope of making it back to one another.
Within These Lines is:
- A historical YA novel set against the backdrop of WWII and the shameful era of American injustice surrounding Japanese internment camps
- Told from the dual points of view of an Italian-American woman and Japanese-American man brought together by love then separated by war, injustice, and hatred
- As haunting and unflinching as it is hope-filled and love-driven
- Perfect for fans of Monica Hesse, Ruta Sepetys, and Elizabeth Wein
I have to be honest with you, reader. I am not one for historical fiction. Not really for any reason - it just isn't my first choice for picking up. Needless to say (for me at least), that may be a habit I get to change thanks to Within These Lines.
WTL is a novel about Evalina who is Italian American and Taichi who is Japanese-American. World War II is the backdrop for the story, and anti-Japanese feelings are running high. Taichi is forced, along with his parents, to go to a internment camp for Japanese-Americans. Morrill has written a beautifully written and researched novel - though it does more than just tug at your heartstrings. I had heard of the internment camps for Japanese-Americans before, but this novel truly brought it to light. It's sad and extremely unfortunate, but it is part of our history regardless.
Their story is told with a realistic hopelessness while also providing some hope for the reader (we are talking historical fiction here - not to say that the hope is not real, of course). The characters are very easy to care for - as flawed as any character can be. Their worries were treated realistically and can be considered culturally sound I believe. The reader will find that Morrill took care into these characters' development.
WTL is truly an experience that everyone should take an advantage of. I don't see many novels being written about Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, so please check it out - you won't be disappointed.