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.
Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Historical fiction has been one of my go-to genres this year. Stephanie Morrill’s historical fiction YA novel, Within These Lines, immediately captured my interest after reading its synopsis. The book follows Evalina and Taichi’s relationship as Taichi and his family are sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
Although books surrounding World War II are common in historical fiction YA, few books have explored internment camps within the US. Within These Lines reminded me of one of my favorite historical fiction reads, Monica Hesse’s The War Outside. While both books feature Japanese protagonists, Within These Lines‘ other protagonist, Evalina, lives her life as normally as possible as an Italian-American. Much of her perspective focuses on her worry for Taichi and fighting for the rights of others.
Stephanie Morrill nicely balances and contrasts Evalina and Taichi’s lives. Evalina was truly her own kickbutt character, between vocalizing the unfair treatment of Japanese citizens and choosing to be a political science major as a female in the 1940s. Her characterization as an Italian-American put her an interesting position as well. While she seen mainly for her skin tone, she still faces prejudice because of her heritage. Taichi’s perspective provided a emotionally-shattering glimpse at life as a Japanese-American during World War II. Taichi and his family live in horrible conditions in the Manzanar internment camp. Along with his friends and family, Taichi must also combat the camp’s inner politics, which I thought provided more historical context.
However, there were parts where Within These Lines felt disjointed. There could have been more on Evalina and Taichi’s relationship before the latter is sent away. I wish we spent more time with some of the secondary characters, like Tony and Gia in Evalina’s perspective. I understand the book is about the couple, but the secondary characters and more background would supplement Evalina and Taichi’s experiences outside their romance. Some worthy events were also briefly mentioned, whether in Taichi’s letters or Evalina’s inner monologue.
Overall, Within These Lines is a unique historical fiction read that provides different perspectives on American life during World War II. I really did enjoy the story and the author’s writing style, but the book could have benefited from more in-depth moments and details.
This review is based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher & The Fantastic Flying Club. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
“I stop and match him with a nasty look of my own. When I spit back, it lands square on the toe of his polished black boot” (84).
“ “Why are oranges considered lucky?”
“I’m not sure,” Mrs. Ling says. “I have always thought they were the perfect fruit because they are the easiest to share. There’s something lovely about that” ” (249)
“I draw a single, bold line through the words A Concerned Citizen and replace them with the three most terrifying words I’ve ever written” (270).
5 winners will receive a finished copy of Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, a Signed Bookplate, and a pre-order poster. Giveaway is USA only. Open from 3/4/19 to 3/15/19.
About Stephanie Morrill:
Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children.
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