February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Live in Infamy by Caroline Tung Richmond | SLJ Review

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redstarRICHMOND, Caroline Tung. Live in Infamy: A Companion to The Only Thing To Fear. 304p. Scholastic. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338111095.

Gr 6 Up –The Allied powers have lost World War II. The United States, now sliced into pieces held by Japan, Italy, and Germany exists under strictly enforced racial and social hierarchies. The story is set in the Japanese-controlled Western American Territories, where ruling monarch Crown Prince Katsura uses threats of being sent to jail, re-education centers (housed in the former Japanese concentration camps), or execution by the Imperial Army’s Ronin Elite to keep the populace under control. The Ronin Elite are “anomalies” possessing a gene enabling them to kill with a look or a touch. Despite this, a resistance movement is growing bolder and the frustrated Crown Prince is becoming increasingly repressive. Ren Tsai, son of a white American man, was forced to watch the execution of his Chinese American mother for treason. He secretly took up her work and became a resistance propagandist known as The Viper. Circumstances force Ren to come forward and assist in a daring plot which will dramatically increase the rebel movement’s strength. The straightforward narrative has few twists, and characters are developed just well enough to tell the story. Social issues have as much weight here as the historical elements. The simplicity of the story works in the book’s favor; potentially challenging material is accessible to middle grade readers, but there is enough action to hook older ones. VERDICT This is a good introduction to historical reimagining for middle grades; all readers will be engaged with the handling of social issues as well as revelations about the secret pockets of resistors, their plots, and their battles with authorities.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, Oakland

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2018 issue.

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