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Monday, March 11, 2019

WWII Love Story Sweet, But Heart-Wrenching (with a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Evalina Cassano, a 17-year-old Italian-American, falls in love with the Japanese-American boy who delivers produce to her family's restaurant, she knows their developing relationship will only lead to trouble.  And that's before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.  In the aftermath, paranoia against anyone of Japanese descent sweeps through the country, making Evalina and Taichi's clandestine romance even more dangerous.  When Taichi's family is sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center, Evalina promises she'll wait for his return.  No one knows how long the Japanese-Americans will be detained or what the world will be like when the war's over.  Can Evaline keep her promise to Taichi?  Is there any hope for a future together, even when barbed wire fences and armed guards aren't standing between them?

Taichi Hamasaki has always been an obedient rule follower.  His secret courting of Evalina is the only exception.  He can't even bear to tell her the truth about what life is really like inside Manzanar.  As things heat up inside the camp, with tempers flaring, gangs forming, and angry mobs causing havoc, Taichi can't remain silent anymore.  Even if it means ticking off the most dangerous residents of Manzanar.  Can he survive life inside the fence, let alone hope for any kind of future beyond it?  The grimmer things get, the more he fears that freedom will never be his.    

I've read many books about World War II, but not too many about the experience of the more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans who were held inside internment camps all over the western U.S. for the duration.  I want to know more about the subject, so when I read the premise to Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, I knew I had to read it.  And I'm glad I did.  The novel paints a vivid, heartbreaking portrait of what Japanese-Americans went through as they were forced out of their homes, moved into hastily-built camps, and pushed into eking out a life in a situation that must have felt completely hopeless.  Both Evaline and Taichi are sympathetic characters for whom it's easy to root.  Their love story is sweet, but heart-wrenching.  Morrill writes with both sensitivity and skill, which makes Within These Lines a compelling, thought-provoking, and memorable read.  I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  The Year Before the War by Susan Meissner; Island of Sweet Pie and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman; and Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Within These Lines from the generous folks at Blink via those at The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Want more opinions on Within These Lines?  Follow along on the book's blog tour:

March 4

That Artsy Reader Girl - Welcome Interview

March 5

Book-Keeping - Book Review
The Reading Corner for All - Book Review, Favorite Quotes, & Book Aesthetic

March 6

Confessions of a YA Reader - Author Guest Post
Phannie the Ginger Bookworm - Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Reading With Wrin - Book Review + Favorite Quotes

March 7

MetalPhantasmReads - Book Spotlight
Here's to Happy Endings - Book Spotlight
A Bookish Dream - Book Review

March 8

Cheyenne Reads - Author Q&A + Book Review
Young Adult Media Consumer - Book Review
Fangirl Fury - Book Review + Favorite Quotes

March 9

Absolute Bookishness - Book Review
Adventures and Reading - Book Review

March 10

Bloggin' 'bout Books - Book Review
Rhythmicbooktrovert - Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Bookish Geek - Author Q&A

March 11

Disappear In Ink - Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Bookish_Kali - Book Review + Favorite Quotes

Want to win a copy of Within These Lines for your very own?  Enter to win (U.S. only) using the following link:  Good luck!


  1. I am posting my review of this on Thursday. I liked it, but felt the ending was a bit too perfect.

    1. I can see why you feel that way, especially in Evalina's case. I'll be interested to see what else you have to say about the book :)

  2. I think the only thing I've ever read about the Japanese internment was Farewell to Manzanar, which absolutely broke my heart, so I'd absolutely love to read this. Even fictionalized accounts help to ensure that this shameful event isn't lost in our collective memory, and I'm really glad there are authors still focusing on it.

    1. Agreed. It's appalling that the internment happened at all; it would be even worse if Americans were allowed to forget that it did. I like that this novel shows the ugliness of what happened at Manzanar, but still ends on a hopeful note.

  3. Interesting. Have you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?

    1. I haven't! I need to. I've had a copy sitting on my shelf for years, I've just never gotten around to reading it. Shame on me!

  4. I've only read a few books about the Japanese internment camps, but each story has been powerful and heartbreaking...and worth reading. Sounds like this one is just as good.

    1. Same here. It's a fascinating subject -- appalling but really interesting.


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