Book Review: We Are Not Free

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, is a historical fiction novel based on the events of Internment camps from the early 1940s that held the Japanese population of the United States. The novel covers the thoughts of 14 Japanese-American teens that were uprooted from their homes in San Francisco, due to executive order 9066, and brought first to Tanforan, a racetrack in California repurposed to hold 8,000+ people of Japanese ancestry. Later the teens are relocated to Topaz, Utah and from there split up based on their own and their family’s answers to the “ Application for Leave Clearance” which became known as the loyalty questionnaire because the adults, residents of the camp 17+, had to answer a 28 question sheet of which only the last two ever really had anything relating to the loyalty of the adults to the US. Those that had answered no to the loyalty questions had been relocated to Tule Lake.

These teens had been close friends with each other and hoped and planned that when they could integrate back into society that they would be able to go back to the Japantown they grew up in. While not everything had gone as planned, the teens managed to stay in contact with each other. We Are Not Free touches on a topic in United States history that not many classes or other books touch on because of how sensitive the topic is. I believe that we should see more on the topic like this book has approached it because it shows more detail than most sources.