WE ARE NOT FREE by Traci Chee: Review


“All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. 

We are not free. 

But we are not alone.”  

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.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


WE ARE NOT FREE is one of the best crafted, most powerfully moving, and necessary novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Everything from the POVS of each character, to the sequence of events as they occurred, to the letters, the style of writing for each individual character, and the images included made for a read that I couldn’t put down. I’m sad to say although we covered WW2 in a number of world history classes, Japanese incarceration camps and the way that Japanese Americans were treated after the attack on Pearl Harbor isn’t a topic that is discussed or covered thoroughly. It’s usually brushed over in a way that is demeaning. To see it told and expressed in a novel (although fictional) is eye opening to the parallels of America then and yet still America now. And for that, I believe WE ARE NOT FREE is one of the most imperative, educational, and devastating novels to ever be published, and one everyone should read.

There is so much I want to say and so much I want to quote about this novel but I wouldn’t even know where to start or how to word how poignant and utterly heartbreaking WE ARE NOT FREE is.

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