by Stephanie Morrill
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.
Within These Lines is an important look at a part of WWII history that we’d rather gloss over.
Before picking up a copy, I knew very little to nothing about the internment of Japanese American citizens during WWII. Reading about the treatment of the citizens and the descriptions of the camps is sobering and hard. But it’s important to know. I really appreciate Morrill showing this lesser-known, harder part of history.
I also appreciate how she showed what life was like in WWII for “ordinary” citizens, for those who weren’t off at war, the people whose lives continued on as “normal” as possible. It’s an angle that isn’t often done in WWII novels.
Evalina and Taichi’s relationship is sweet, and you can’t help but root for the two of them to be together. The side characters who pop up throughout the novel, while possibly being a lot, help keep the story feel real–we all have plenty of people who go in and out of our lives. And you’ll like a few of the side characters too. 😉
The audiobook was well done. The narrator for Taichi wasn’t my favorite at first, but I didn’t mind his voice by the end of the book.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful read, and enjoy sweet, innocent romance plots, consider picking up a copy of Within These Lines.
Cautions: moderate romance; several kisses; mention of an unmarried character being pregnant in the past