Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Posted March 3, 2019 by Lisa Mandina in / 6 Comments

Book info:

TitleWithin These Lines
Author:  Stephanie Morrill
Genre:  YA Historical Fiction
Release Date:  March 5th, 2019
Publisher:  Blink YA
Source:  ARC received from publisher which did not influence my opinion
My rating:  5 stars

Evalina Cassano’s life
in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until
she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants.
Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial 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 move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment
make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only
connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina.
Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out
on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal
at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between
different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he
will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and
their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their
values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other
against unbelievable odds.

My Review:
Although this one actually started off slow for me, and I was unsure if I would like it, it really redeemed itself in the end.  I usually love historical fiction like this, especially when it is about certain parts of history that I only know the bare minimum about.  To be honest, the only thing I really  knew about the Japanese detainment camps during WWII had to do with what I’d learned from one of the characters in the original Karate Kid movie.  Yeah, I know, that’s sad.  I’m sure I learned other things in school, but that is all that stuck with me.  

The book started out seeming like it was just going to be a pretty simple romance story with some of the historical times that it was set in. But once we got to the point where Taichi got sent to the camp, it really got into what resonated with me.  The fact that here in America we would start a camp, and run it, almost as bad as what the Nazi’s were doing in Germany, frustrates me. However, the book reminded me about how the press made sure to only cover what made it look like the camps were nice relaxing, fun places.  That the truth of the matter wasn’t really shown.  That kind of detail is so relevant in today’s world, when we hear about fake news, and you hear that governments or companies, want to control what is reported.  

But it wasn’t just the Japanese interment camp parts that this book really brought up.  There was also the bit that Evalina had to deal with not only as a female, but also as a minority in the country at that time as well.  The fact that inter-racial marriage was so illegal at that time, so much more than really ever occurred to me, a very sheltered girl when I was growing up in the suburbs of the 80s.  

Overall this was a great historical fiction for teens, and I look forward to putting it in my school library for my students to read. 

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6 responses to “Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

    • It totally was. I don't know that I have time to add any more challenges, it would probably be too stressful. Maybe next year. Thanks for stopping by though!

  1. Oh man, this sounds good. I read Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston in my early or mid 20's (I'm surprised I never had to read this in grade or high school!) and was utterly horrified. I knew that the US had implemented the camps, but I never knew how horrible the conditions were in them, and how badly the people suffered after leaving them (incidents like returning back to their homes to find their neighbors had stolen all their belongings and refused to give them back, or not having a home at all to return to). It's rage-inducing that my country did this and even thinking about it makes me want to scream, so I'm glad there's still new historical fiction that still tackles these deeply shameful actions perpetrated by the US.

    • I'd never read Farewell to Manzanar, but had heard of it, and even though I knew some things about this time, I really didn't know a lot. This is the kind of book that I think is important to bring along for the kids today, hopefully get them to read about this and see what happened in history.

  2. Japanese culture and history is my favorite to study. I have read a middle grade book about the Japanese camps in the US, so this book sounds like one I will also enjoy. Thanks for the review and I'm adding this to my wish list.

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