Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill is a historical fiction novel that yields a vastness of emotions to readers. Her protagonists Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki provided eloquent and relatable narratives about how the United States launched the Japanese Internment program and the impact their country's internal division had on their young, forbidden love. Through Evalina and Taichi's relationship, Morrill shows an enthralling command of language as she encourages readers to engage with our past and examine difficult events from our contemporary perspective.
"'When someone yells, we cover our ears. But when someone whispers, we strain to hear them.'" ~Grace
Within These Lines is a homage to the brave individuals who acted with dignity and honor in the face of an unequal and prejudiced nation. Morrill puts these blurred faces into perspective and brushes them forth from the particles of history. The amount of research and dedication to history is clearly brandished through Morrill’s stirring narrative.
"'Respectfully, sir, I think I just see with world differently than you do that doesn't make me misguided." ~Evalina
Evalina was a remarkable young woman who was not afraid to have a voice during a time when so many were silent. Her fiery nature is established at the beginning of the story along with her emotional tendencies. Evalina’s great sense of justice, political interest, and tears at injustice make her an exceptionally humane character that I found myself wholeheartedly connecting with as the novel progressed. Similarly, Taichi's solid voice in the midst of turbulent affairs resonated with emotion. The story eventually reached a point where the environment became so real to me that I read more as truth rather than a fictionalized chronicle of historical events.
"On Monday, it will have been one year since the attack on Pearl Harbor. It feels more like centuries ago with everything that's happened."~Evalina
Throughout the novel, author Stephanie Morrill was able to articulate the despairing clash between nationalism and the wildfire of paranoia circulating the United States during the aftermath of Pear Harbor. The author highlights the divisions within the country and how it created a warped sense of patriotism that only succeeded in ostracizing fellow American citizens. Morrill was able to subtly embed impactful images such as the juxtaposition of young, harmless Japanese girls playing hopscotch inside a wired fence surrounded by armed guards. I also found a particular scene near the end of the book especially moving where readers are taken along Evalina’s Saturday route. While this is a short passage, we see people of all heritages and backgrounds interacting with each other in a way that brings about such a raw sense of humanity that sharply contrasts the brutality of the Manzanar Relocation Center where many Japanese were sent during the internment program.
"...there will be plenty of days ahead for sadness and fighting. Today, I will instead choose to be brave by feeling the joy offered to me in this moment."~Evalina
Within These Lines ultimately conveys Evalina and Taichi’s vivid and emotional journey set against the backdrop of World War II through interchanging perspectives and unforgettable letters with the premise that the war- and the discrimination of their nation- could steal Evalina and Taichi's future, but through bravery and fortitude, battle wounds can give way to a stronger, unyielding love. I’d highly recommend this work as a five star read that holds an abundance of hope in the midst of disparity and uncompromising love.
More outstanding quotes from Within These Lines:
"'I don't want to wait for someone to build us a bridge,' I snap. 'I'll do it myself.'" ~Evalina
"'Sometimes you have to be honest with people, even if you know it's going to hurt them.'" ~Aiko
"'You have always excelled at fighting for others. But if you want to have the strength to continue to do so, you must value yourself to fight your own battles too.'" Mrs. Cassano
"Boys my age are fighting in battles all over the world." ~Taichi
"Letting fear and pride make your decisions is only going to lead to regret. She loves you, and you love her. I think there will be rewards for persevering." ~Diego
"'I was just too angry to stay quiet.'"
"'That counts as bravery, I think."
~Evalina and Mrs. Cassano
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About the Book
Within These Lines
by Stephanie Morrill
Release date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, WWII
Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.
Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.
With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.
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Prize: 5 sets of a Finished Copy of Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
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Starts: 3/4/19 Ends: 3/15/19
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