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For fourteen-year-old budding artist Minoru Ito, her two brothers, her friends, and the other members of the Japanese-American community in southern California, the three months since Pearl Harbor was attacked have become a waking nightmare: attacked, spat on, and abused with no way to retaliate--and now things are about to get worse, their lives forever changed by the mass incarcerations in the relocation camps. - (Baker & Taylor)

Growing up together in the community of Japantown, San Francisco, four second-generation Japanese American teens find their bond tested by widespread discrimination and the mass incarcerations of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

"A beautiful, painful, and necessary work of historical fiction." &;Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor winning author of The Night Diary

- (Houghton)


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.
- (Houghton)

Author Biography

Traci Chee is a New York Times bestselling author of the YA fantasy trilogy- The Reader, The Speaker, and The Storyteller which were shortlisted and nominated for multiple awards and accolades. In We Are Not Free, Chee changes gears, pulling from her own family history in this stunning and evocative novel, one that resonates so deeply against today's tumultuous political backdrop.  Visit her at, on Twitter @tracichee and on Facebook and Instagram @TraciCheeAuthor.
- (Houghton)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Chee is a master storyteller, as the Reader trilogy aptly demonstrates. Here, she uses her own San Francisco–based Japanese American family's history to inform a blazing and timely indictment of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Her passion and personal involvement combine with her storytelling talents to create a remarkable and deeply moving account of the incarceration. The interconnected stories of 14 very different teenage individuals beautifully demonstrate the disintegration of family life in the camps, a phenomenon often addressed in nonfiction accounts but not so well depicted in fiction—until now. In a culture where the influence of parents and grandparents was all-important, life behind barbed wire destroyed that dynamic, with peer influence and friendships taking precedence. It's as if S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders met Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's Farewell to Manzanar. Despite the large cast, Chee's clear chapter headings, vivid characterizations, and lively portrayals of very diverse characters enable readers to easily identify the nonstereotyped teens. Chee also incorporates many different media types: telegrams, newspapers, postcards, drawings, and maps all help to drive and deepen the story. A short but excellent bibliography and thoughtful author's notes round out what should become required curriculum reading on a shameful and relevant chapter in U.S. history. Grades 8-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—Fourteen teens form a bond growing up together in California. They go to school, work hard to be good kids in their community, and try their best to find happiness in various hobbies. American-born, they are of Japanese descent, and surrounded by people who do not trust their right to be in the U.S. World War II turns their already strained lives upside down. Taken and forced into desolate internment camps, these young kids must rally together as racism threatens to tear them apart. This novel evokes powerful emotions by using a variety of well-researched elements to tell the teens' stories, creating a thorough picture of their thoughts and feelings through poetry, diary-style entries, and drawings. As Chee mentions in the author's note, her family experienced the impact of being marked as "other" and therefore "dangerous," and were forcibly uprooted from their homes and incarcerated in internment camps. The novel may be fiction, but it will be hard for readers not to fall deep into the harsh realities these teens face. The writing is engaging and emotionally charged, allowing the readers to connect with each character. VERDICT Chee's words are a lot to take in, but necessary and beautiful all the same. This remarkable book deserves to be in any library collection.—DeHanza Kwong, Butte Public Library, MT

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

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