This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II

Tor Teen. Jan. 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250192387.
Gr 7 Up–It is 1935 and Alex Maki is excited to start writing to his new French pen pal, Charlie Lévy, until he finds out Charlie is a girl. But the assignments have already been made, and so Alex and Charlie are stuck with each other. Six years later, they’re still writing, though so much has changed. Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor, and suddenly everyone in Alex’s close-knit community in Washington State distrusts his Japanese American family, even though he and his brother have never set foot in Japan. Charlie, meanwhile, is still in Paris, but it’s a Paris no longer friendly to Jews. Then Alex and his family are taken away to a camp and Charlie stops responding to his letters. While this is a story about Alex and his friendship with Charlie, it transcends the two to tackle larger questions of racism and state-sponsored violence. Though there are numerous novels of World War II, Alex’s is a fresh story of the internment of Japanese Americans and the Japanese American experience broadly. While occasionally melodramatic, the novel is grounded in meticulous historical research and deals with both internment and life on the war front.
VERDICT Recommended where historical novels are popular; this one adds an important perspective to World War II fiction.

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