Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II
By Martin W. Sandler
Published 2013 by Walker Childrens
It is a part of our history that, to this day, we often don't talk about: the internment of Japanese-American citizens in camps during World War II. This book will help bring that awful but important piece of history to light.
One of the last library books I snuck in this year before kicking my reading resolution into gear, I picked this one up because it was a finalist for the YALSA Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. I read a book by Sandler a couple years ago (The Impossible Rescue) and thought it was a well-researched and engaging piece of non-fiction, so I was interested to read more from him.
Like his previous title, Sandler clearly did his research for this book. What really makes this book stand out is how personal it is. Much of the narrative is drawn from oral histories and interviews with survivors of the camps. The archival photographs really help tell the story as well. It's a powerful story, one that I think is important to bring to the attention of young people. It is true what they say about the past: if you don't learn from it, you're doomed to repeat it. We need to remember the unpleasant parts of our history so that we don't ever repeat them. Sandler does an excellent job recounting the lives of survivors before, during, and after the camps. By highlighting their lives before, readers easily get a sense of how ridiculous it was to put these people in camps. It shows how easy it is for a culture of fear and suspicion to develop and grow until it becomes something unbelievable and unrecognizable. Showing their lives after the camps is equally important. For one, many of the survivors go on to lead extraordinary lives, showing that facing adversity can make you a stronger person. But also it shows that not everyone recovers from the injustices they had to face. This is a book that will hopefully get young readers thinking about social justice and our government and make them conscious of what happens in the world around them. It does feel like a bit of a harder sell than the previous Sandler title I read, though there are certainly many young readers who'll pick up anything related to war. I'll be recommending this one whenever I can.