We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

“Gaman. The ability to hold your pain and bitterness inside you and not let them destroy you. To make something beautiful through your anger, or with your anger, and neither erase it nor let it define you. To suffer. And to rage. And to persevere.”
― Traci Chee, We Are Not Free

Are you wanting to read something outside your comfort zone? Book clubs are an excellent way to expand your reading palette! Lucky for you, the Davenport Public Library has a wide number of different book clubs for you to join. My latest read, We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, was the January selection for See YA, an adult book club that reads young adult titles.

We Are Not Free tells the stories of fourteen teens. These young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, grew up together in Japantown, San Francisco. Their lives were torn apart after Pearl Harbor. They were attacked, abused, and treated horrifically with no way to seek justice. At least they had each other to rely on. Their sense of home and security is ripped away when the United States government begins their mass removal and forced evacuation to relocation centers. Over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were eventually removed from their homes and forced into these camps for just over four years. This novel follows the lives of these fourteen teens and how they respond when the world tries to break them apart.

This book tore me up. The audiobook is told by a wide cast of narrators, making it easier for me to keep each teen separate. Every character has a separate story, yet as I was reading, I knew that even though there were fourteen different perspectives represented, this was only a small look at the multitude of situations that happened during World War II to Japanese Americans. If you’re looking for an introduction to this topic that isn’t overly heavy or violent, I recommend We Are Not Free by Traci Chee.

If you’re interested in joining See YA, we will be meeting Wednesday, February 7th at 6:30pm at the Davenport Public Library | Eastern Avenue Branch to discuss You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.

“History is not dead. We have not moved on. Like Minnow and many of my other characters, I love this country because it is my home, and my parents’ home, and my grandparents’ home, and because I was raised to believe in the opportunity and equality America promises, but this does not prevent me from seeing its problems, seeing all the ways it has failed its people again and again.”
― Traci Chee, We Are Not Free

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