The book We Are Not Free is a historical fiction by the Author Traci Chee. In the book, they
provide the perspectives of fourteen different characters - Minnow, Shig, Yum-Yum, Bette,
Frankie, Stan, Aiko, Yuki, Mary, Kiyoshi, Mas, Keiko, Twitchy, and Tommy - who are all
Japanese-American teens affected by the Pearl Harbor incident. All the characters (other than
Kiyoshi) lived a peaceful and carefree life together as friends in Japantown, where they lived
until the pearl harbor incident occurred. After this incident, Japanese, including Japanese
Americans like them, were constantly mistreated for their race, calling them Japanese spies and
other racist names. The book showcased the xenophobia and racism towards Asians in the
1940s. They were kicked out of their homes, dragged onto crowded trains, and held in
concentration camps. This novel explores and provides clarity to what all of them went through.
It captures all the emotions they felt; Love, Hate, Stress, Hope, Sadness, Frustration.
As someone who didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the pearl harbor incident and how it
affected Asians, especially Japanese, I thoroughly enjoyed and found this book very informative
and interesting. I could not put this book down. It fully informed me about the incident and its
aftermath. I felt a sense of sorrow reading some parts of the book, but I also felt
accomplishment when one of the characters would achieve something they’ve been wanting to
achieve or portray a message to the public. What I really found interesting about the book was
that for every chapter, it was a perspective of a different character. It really encapsulates the
perspective of the whole ordeal from their brains and their unique personalities.
I highly recommend this book for youth aged 12/13-18. In some cases, can read the book at the
age of twelve, but there is frequent cursing in most of the chapters,
descriptions of death, descriptions of war, and some violence. However, it just depends on the
reader's maturity, knowledge, and comfort to triggering topics. However, We Are Not Free is a
book everyone should read at one point.