Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson (Dear America: The Diary of Piper Davis)

The Dear America series published by Scholastic is a series of historical fiction books that imagine a diary of young girl during an important event in US History. I had never read them before, but I know my nieces really enjoy them. I had reason to pick up The Fences Between Us and I was looking forward to it because it's the diary of young pastor's daughter during World War II. Her father is the pastor of a Japanese Church so when Pearl Harbor is attacked the situation for their congregation becomes tense. To further add to their stress, Piper's older brother has enlisted in the Navy and they are always worrying about his safety.

I loved this book. I have to admit that this period in history intrigues always shocks me and surprises me how awful my country was to the Japanese American citizens and I feel like I can never read enough stories about it. I feel like it does get swept under the rug when we talk about World War II's so much easier to talk about evil Hitler and the concentration camps and to forget that our own internment camps were a paler less severe version.

But even more than that I loved Piper's voice...she was a normal teenage girl in many ways dating and feeling jealous of her friends, and being worried for her family and resenting being a PK. :) But she has such a huge heart and her father is just amazing (♥♥♥) and his loyalty and love for his congregation sets a hard but good example for Piper. As the situation continues to grow more severe for their Japanese friends, they end up making a huge life transition to stand by their friends.

Perhaps because of the first person diary narrative the story is filled with that immediate tension of not knowing what is happening, rations becoming more severe, laws passing to further segregate the Japanese from their's a great read. And the cast of characters all feel real and well defined for such a short book.

And I'm not going to lie to you, this book made me teary in all the right ways. Piper's world felt so real to me and when it was over, I was sorry to leave it behind.

I think this book is technically middle grade. And I absolutely loved it. Don't you love ageless stories?

Rating: 4.75/5
Source of Book: Received for Review
Publisher: Scholastic


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