American Girl by Tony Talbot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“American Girl” is a riveting and engrossing YA novel (quite enjoyable for adult readers too) told from the point of view of a Nisei girl turning sixteen on Dec. 7, 1941-the day of the fatal bombing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Mary Tanaka, her older brother Ichiro (stationed at Pearl Harbor), and her younger brother Kenichi, are Nisei: American-born, while their parents are Issei, of Japanese birth and not allowed to become American citizens. But Mary, Kenichi’s, and Ichiro’s American citizenship by birth does not protect them from a civilian populace infuriated by the Pearl Harbor attack and fearful of a Japanese uprising on the American continent, and a potential Japanese invasion of the U.S. West Coast. Mary, Ken, and their parents are swept into the madness of interment, where citizenship, political affiliation, and innocence of wrongdoing make no difference to mob hysteria and condemnation.
Author Tony Talbot wraps enticing, empathetic characters in a true-to-life historical plot line, comparable to the type of situations Anne Frank’s family encountered while in hiding: the terror, the inability to grasp why they were in danger, and the eventual outcome of capture. Readers will be heart-in-mouth throughout this story, wanting to pull the characters away from what seems inevitable. Additionally, this novel is a riveting way of presenting an ugly chapter in America’s past.
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