Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Within These Lines
Stephanie Morrill
Blink YA
Publishes March 5, 2019

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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 makes 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.

Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince on Amazon

My Review

It’s probably no secret that I love Stephanie Morrill’s storytelling. Her characters always have this deep core of integrity and courage, and yet they’re relatable and funny. WITHIN THESE LINES has all the thing I love about her other books, and it focuses on a historical moment that we need to remember.

WITHIN THESE LINES isn’t the first book about the Japanese internment camps that I’ve read before, but it’s the first one I’ve seen where the political atmosphere around the camps is so overtly described. I loved that the story followed Taichi’s perspective as a Japanese American and a prisoner of the Manzanar camp. But I thought it was also cool to show how difficult it would be to speak out against the camps, and to love across racial lines at a time when not only was it viewed as wrong, but was illegal. It’s easy for us to look back at history and say, “I would never have stood by silently while that happened. I totally would have spoken out.” WITHIN THESE LINES gives us a chance to walk in those shoes and see how difficult that might have been. (Obviously Evalina’s experience was nothing compared to Taichi’s.)

In terms of the characters, I loved both Evalina and Taichi. I spent a couple of months in Tokyo a few years ago, and some of the language and the way Taichi relates to his family and camp members made me think back to that trip and really miss it. I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but there were a lot of references to and snapshot moments of Japanese language and culture throughout WITHIN THESE LINES. Taichi’s sister was probably my favorite character. She added a lot to the story with her fierceness and strong emotions.

At its core, WITHIN THESE LINES is a love story. If you love forbidden romance and/or liked Morrill’s other historical novel, THE LOST GIRL OF ASTOR STREET, then you definitely want to check this one out. (Also, if you haven’t read LOST GIRL, go check it out!)

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Evalina is an Italian American and considered white. She is ashamed of her family’s earlier connection to the mafia. Taichi and his family are Japanese American and end up imprisoned in an internment camp.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Some racist comments and situations. Signs prohibit Japanese from entering some places of business. A man spits at the feet of people on their way to internment camps. A group within the camp vows to overthrow the system and align themselves with Japan, threatening to harm or kill others, including any fellow prisoners who don’t support their efforts.

Drug Content

Within These Lines on Goodreads

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

  1. I read this one as well! Really enjoyed it. It was both my first book by this author, as well as my first book on Japanese Internment Camps. I need to read this author’s other book. Are you going to ApollyCon this year?

    • Yes! Definitely read The Lost Girl of Astor Street. I liked her Ellie Sweet books, too, though they might be a little younger than what you usually read. They’re about a teenage girl who writes a novel and gets it published and all the drama that causes in her life. They’re fun. I’m not going to ApollyCon this year – my littlest is just over a year old and I think it would be too hard to either do the trip without her or bring her along. Maybe next year, though! 🙂