We Are Not Free (Hardcover)
HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780358131434, 400pp.
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
“All around me, my friends are talking, joking, laughing. Outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us.
We are not free.
But we are not alone.”
From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.
Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.
Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.
Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.
In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.
About the Author
Praise For We Are Not Free…
Advance Praise for We Are Not Free
"A brilliant and intimate portrayal of several San Francisco teenagers during the mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans in World War II. Chee's nuanced and unforgettable characters will serve to enlighten readers about this devastating and shameful piece of America's past. A beautiful, painful, and necessary work of historical fiction."
—Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor winning author of The Night Diary
“These powerful interconnected stories of incarceration during WWII told by Nisei youth will wrap around your heart like barbed wire. With deft touches of humor, heart, pathos, and anger, We Are Not Free by the talented Traci Chee is the best Japanese American incarceration novel I’ve read. I loved this book that epitomized gaman and will be buying a copy for everyone in my family.”
—author Debbi Michiko Florence
“This novel is nothing short of a masterpiece. In We Are Not Free, Traci Chee gives us the most comprehensive novelization of the Japanese American internment that I've ever read, without sacrificing the intimate and achingly human individual experience. Traci Chee's characters don't step off the page so much as they shuffle, sashay, and swagger. With them, you will blaze with incandescent rage, crumble with internalized shame, and laugh with true, soul-deep joy. Each individual voice, each individual story is a gem; taken as a whole, they are an unforgettable wonder that you will want to return to again and again.”
—Misa Sugiura, author of This Time Will Be Different and It's Not Like It's a Secret, winner of the 2018 APALA Award for YA Literature
“A powerful and heartbreaking look into history. In a time when it's integral to remember the failings of our past so that we can ensure we preserve our humanity in the present, Chee brings us a relevant and poignant tale of a group of Japanese-American teens who were forced to feel unwelcome in a country they've always called home. We Are Not Free compels us to face the reality that when fear guides us, our humanity suffers. It's such a testament to Chee's storytelling that she's able to show us the horrors that happened to these Japanese-American teens and still include a thread of hope throughout. I dare you to try to read this book with dry eyes. A must-read book.”
—Kat Cho, author of Wicked Fox
"A powerful and starkly honest story of identity and home, fear and hope, We Are Not Free is like an emotional punch to the gut."
—Lori M. Lee, author of Forest of Souls
"Powerful and illuminating, and as hopeful as it is heartbreaking—one of the best YA books I’ve read in years."
—Elsie Chapman, author of Caster
Praise for The Storyteller:
* “With an assurance that equals her sorcerer protagonist's, Chee constantly interrogates her central question: "who controls the story." At one point hers reaches the high-fantasy equivalent of The Monster at the End of This Book (though with significantly more elegance)… Thoroughly immersive, thoroughly satisfying.”—Kirkus, starred review
* “In this richly realized novel, Chee has masterfully converged all of her characters into one final confrontation…as Chee pulls out all the stops to beautifully obliterate her readers' hearts.”—Booklist, starred review
* “This is a fast-paced adventure with fully developed characters that explores memory and the power of the written word…[A] beautiful love story at its core.”—School Library Journal, starred review
Praise for The Speaker:
* "Filled with even more magic and intrigue than its predecessor, this is a gripping follow-upthat will leave readers speculating and wanting more."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Strategically written with elements from the previous volume, this entry is rich with twists and turns that will leave readers in constant shock while reminding them that there are no coincidences in this narrative."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Fans will be knocking down the door to read this exciting sequel."—Booklist
“Chee has once again created an unforgettable story. Filled with secrets and surprises, this fast-paced storyline draws readers in and keeps them on their toes.”—VOYA
Praise for The Reader:
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year – 2016
Finalist for the 2016 Kirkus Prize
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year – 2016
An NPR Best Book of the Year – 2016
“I was spellbound from the first page. An utterly transportive tale of swashbucklers and sharpshooters, masterfully written. Traci Chee has penned a beautiful novel about the power of story, complete with a fantastic cast of characters and an expertly rendered fantasy landscape. This is a book you will not soon forget.”—Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn
* “Deftly rendered in beautiful prose, narrated through three shifting time lines woven into an interconnected history of duty, honor, and magic. . . . This is a must-have for all those who value a good read with genuine character growth, mystery, unique world-building, adventure, unyielding bonds of loyalty, and pirates. . . . A fresh, diverse fantasy; highly recommended for fans of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and female-powered adventures.”—School Library Journal, starred review
* “Commanding storytelling and vivid details, particularly of the magical process of reading, bring the story to life… the first of what promises to be an enchanting series.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* “Chee’s debut is an intricate, multilayered reading experience… An exploration of self-determination and the magic of the written word, Sefia’s story is an absorbing introduction to the Sea of Ink and Gold series.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “With evocative language, fascinating world building, multifaceted characters, and a compelling plot, this is a series fantasy lovers will want to sink their teeth into.”—Booklist, starred review
“Most world-building shies away from tackling the question of literacy within fantasy cultures, but here it serves as the beating meta-heart.”—NPR