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Camp Nine

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
When Camp Nine, a relocation camp for Japanese Americans, is built near tiny Rook, Arkansas, Chess Morton becomes involved with two young internees and an American soldier who has some connection with her mother's past.
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by University of Arkansas Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Augusta Scattergood
Based on personal experiences of the author who lived in Arkansas when Japanese citizens were forced into relocation centers, this remarkable story is told by a young girl trying to make sense of a mother’s complicated indignation. Family dynamics, race and class, and the Blues connect in a love story intertwined with history and horror at the situation.

Perhaps the novel’s truth comes as Chess, the young narrator, attempts to understand her beloved Arkansas Delta. When David Matsui, her new Jap
Mar 12, 2016 Patsey added it
Shelves: 2016
Page 121.
"It would be many years before America would become accustomed to talk like that, the idea that the world at large is alive, not just something to plow up and chop down and bend to our will. But they were the same sentiments I'd heard from Ruby Jean and her family. Despite the atrocities they were forced to commit against the earth with our newfangled chemicals and poisons, they maintained a reverence and respect for nature that went far beyond our desire for dominance over what we coul
Mary Lindsey
Nov 02, 2011 Mary Lindsey rated it it was amazing
I loved this well-researched, creative story about an unfamiliar aspect of our country's history.
Oct 31, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing
This book tells a fictionalized account of the interned Japanese US citizens during WWII. A camp was set up in Arkansas and our government moved law abiding CITIZENS to a military base simply because they were Japanese. It was one of the worst offenses post-slavery that this country had sanctioned.

Chess Morton is just a child when the Camp is established on land that was hers; her grandfather is guardian of her estate and he sells it to the government. She is of the "landed gentry" in the area a
Jul 26, 2012 Allie rated it liked it
I found this book in the new fiction section at the library one morning. Once again, a historical fiction novel set in my favorite time period. Unlike the others, this one takes place in the USA. For the first time, or my first time anyways, I found a WWII book about America that wasn't directly about the war. This story takes place in Arkansas. A young girl and her mother are living on the large plantation, near the parents of the deceased husband. There's not much to do in this little town exc ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Carolyn rated it liked it
Just finished reading the novel “Camp Nine” by Vivienne Schiffer. I was moved by the story, a first-person telling of the years that Japanese-Americans were interned at a fictional detainment camp in Arkansas, on the Mississippi. The story is based on the Rohwer Relocation Center, and the narrator is a pre-teen white girl, negotiating the class and racial divides so powerful in the Deep South in the 1940s and beyond. One heroine and focal point of the tale is the narrator’s mother, a widow of It ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it
Vivienne Schiffer’s Camp Nine is a quiet, moving coming-of-age story detailing life at fictionalized Camp Nine, a place teeming with life and culture in the 1940s. In modern times, it’s difficult to believe that places like this actually existed on American soil — but while reading, I had to remember the mayhem that followed the dark days after Sept. 11, 2001. The rampant fear and uncertainty. The chaos and confusion. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the American people struggled to ma ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Amber rated it liked it
Following an "all things Asian or the like" appetite I was picking up any book with an almond blossom on the cover for sure. "Camp Nine" was about the internment camps for the Japanese in the United States during WWII. Not a world shattering expose but a well told story with believable characters struggling to find a sense of belonging in a greater tale of war and the many forgotten victims.

I was only little aware of the camps, so I was thankful for Schiffer giving voice to a page often left out
Jan 16, 2014 Jeannie rated it it was amazing
Schiffer is an incredible writer. The story is very interesting and Schiffer gives just enough information throughout the story to help the reader understand yet also leaves room for the imagination.

Camp Nine is based on Rohwer Relocation Center, a camp in eastern Arkansas in the Delta area. Looking back on this time in history through a 21st century lens, it is hard to believe that such a thing could take place; today, this would be considered racial profiling.

And yet I cannot judge history too
Ryan G
Jan 12, 2012 Ryan G rated it really liked it
For some strange reason, I've been reading a lot of books this year that relates a story during World War II. I've never been a big fan of war history or that particular time period, so I have found it all that more curious that I seem to be reading everything that comes my way that deals with that era of history. They have for the most part been nonfiction and the few fiction books have been mysteries or Gothic that just happens to be set during that period. Up until this point, I hadn't read a ...more
Jenn Ravey
Mar 30, 2012 Jenn Ravey rated it really liked it
Raised by her headstrong mother and near her disapproving but wealthy grandparents, Chess is a product of the time and the land, in an era where land still defined American status and wealth. However, the world is not all peaceful and bucolic in Vivienne Schiffer's Camp Nine. Pearl Harbor has dragged America into the second World War, and the government buys land in the Arkansas Delta from Chess's grandfather, Mr. Morton, for an internment camp for Japanese citizens from San Francisco. The commu ...more
Nov 15, 2011 Serena rated it really liked it
Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer is told from the point of view of Cecilia “Chess” Morton as she looks back on her time in Desha County, Arkansas, during the late 1940s when Camp Nine was erected near her childhood home. As a child, she grew up without a father, but she had a mother who doted on her, though she often butts heads with Chess’ grandfather, who owned half, if not more, of the town, Rook. Her grandfather controlled much of Chess’ land inheritance and sold a good portion of land, which ...more
Susana Olague Trapani
Nov 28, 2011 Susana Olague Trapani rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lydia Presley
Dec 01, 2011 Lydia Presley rated it really liked it
Original review posted here

For such a small book (151 pages), this one sure packs a punch.

I know very little about the camps created here in the states for the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. But over the last year, I’ve been reading more fiction about the horrible treatment not only received by the Japanese, but other immigrants during that time period (Also, see Lost in Shangri La by Mitchell Zuckoff).

This book tells a fictional story of “Camp Nine”, based on a camp that was located in the author
May 08, 2012 Marla rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-reads
Chess Morton lives on a large plantation slab of land in rural Arkansas with her widowed mother. Her paternal grandparents live on the same land in a mansion. Chess and her mother get by with minimal contact with her grandparents as the adults are always in a conflict over something. The latest conflict stems from the selling of Camp Nine, land that was left to Chess, to the US Government to use for a Japanese Internment Camp. The story is engrossing and very well written; Chess and her mother b ...more
Cynthia Archer
Feb 15, 2012 Cynthia Archer rated it really liked it
Lovely, quick reading story of a young girl growing up in Arkansas during WWII. Japanese families are moved from California to a camp near her home. The interaction of her and her mother with these families, as well as an officer from her mother's past, make for a great story. Chess, the young woman, is wise beyond her years and I really liked her, as well as her spirited but resigned mother. The problems of the confined Japanese gave me a picture of what this time must have been like for them. ...more
Sep 22, 2016 Connie rated it it was amazing
A great read! True to the place and time.
We relocated to the Arkansas Delta several years ago. In some ways things are different than in the book, but in others they are not!
I understand there is nothing left to commemorate camp nine but a small concrete marker...a shame ,really, that such a piece of american history isn't preserved in a better manner. I guess it's true...the delta gets everything eventually!
Jul 02, 2012 Brigid rated it liked it
Recommends it for: upper el and up
This book gave me a good view into the lives of Japanese-American internees (I didn't know there was a camp in the east) and a bit of the townsfolk nearby. Though obviously centered on the protagonist, a young white girl whose grandfather owns a huge plantation in that swampy part of Arkansas, we still learn quite a bit about Japanese-American culture and society. It certainly made me squirm to read again about how horribly the U.S. can treat its own citizens. I would have liked to have known wh ...more
Sarah Allen
Mar 01, 2016 Sarah Allen rated it really liked it
I had just finished reading "Hotel on the Corner Between Bitter and Sweet" when I pick up this book from the library. Both books center around internment camps for US Japanese citizens during WWII. I really enjoyed both books and am glad that I read them together. Camp Nine evokes a sense of place and atmosphere that envelopped me and drew me in. A world of racism and sexism in which everyone is trying to find a place where they can peacefully exist. Highly recommended.
Wendy Wells
Feb 10, 2014 Wendy Wells rated it really liked it
The things we don't know that happend right in our state!!
Jean Skornicka
Apr 02, 2016 Jean Skornicka rated it it was amazing
I loved it.
Mar 25, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: WW2 buffs, people who like Southern writers
Recommended to Michelle by: Book Club Selection
This novel, which reads like a memoir, is about a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas - just outside a fictional tiny, poor town (but based on a real place). While the author does describe life in the camp, the main character is a young white girl who lives next to the camp and her growing awareness of the injustices being committed in her backyard. White/black relations of the time are explored in detail and provide an interesting counterpoint to white/Japanese relations.
Michelle Lane
Dec 02, 2013 Michelle Lane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This should be on the reading list right next to "To Kill a Mockingbird".

The imagery is beautiful without overwhelming the reader or taxing your patience. The story itself examines the less talked about Japanese "relocation" camps of WWII in the rural American south - Arkansas in this instance.

The characters are very much alive and rich. You have a vested interest in all of them and they are all very human and true to nature. This will go on my shelves as a classic.
Buried In Print
This review was deleted following Amazon's purchase of GoodReads.

The review can still be viewed via LibraryThing, where my profile can be found here.

I'm also in the process of building a database at Booklikes, where I can be found here.

If you read/liked/clicked through to see this review here on GR, many thanks.
Leslie Thompson
Jan 15, 2013 Leslie Thompson rated it liked it
The three populations in the south and their interactions with each other are what makes this book interesting. Ms. Schiffer needed to write deeper in order to develop certain relationships more intimately. The point of view of the young daughter kept it at arm's length. There was potential for shock and rage, through flashback or artful dialog perhaps. It was ho-hum and an easy read.
Edward Sullivan
Twelve-year-old Chess Morton's quiet life in the Arkansas delta changes abruptly after her wealthy landowning grandfather sells some worthless land to the government for the purpose of housing 10,000 Japanese Americans from the West coast in an internment camp during World War II. Published by a university press but perfectly suitable for either adult or young adult audiences.
Sarah Haman
Sep 11, 2012 Sarah Haman rated it really liked it
Another amazing book. Short and sweet :) Gives a clear picture of what it was like being raised in the South. It talks about the racism and how people on the levee in Arkansas related, or didn't, to the japanese who were interned near their homes. I appreciated the connection that was made between Chess and her mother and the folks in the internment camp near them.
Laura Axelrod
Nov 12, 2012 Laura Axelrod rated it really liked it
By the end of the story, readers will begin to understand the complex dynamics between various communities. The book also provides a deeply disturbing view of the Japanese-American internment camps and their effects on individual families.

Read the rest of the review.
Debra Hale-Shelton
Sep 03, 2012 Debra Hale-Shelton rated it really liked it
Set in southern Arkansas, where a Japanese internment camp once existed, this novel is about racial relations -- and hatred -- in the Delta in 1942 and the things people choose not to know. It's also about one woman's efforts to make a difference. I read this short novel for my book club. I may write more later on my blog.
Karin Bartimole
Oct 17, 2012 Karin Bartimole rated it really liked it
The isolation and internment of American Japanese people in the 1940's is something I knew very little about. Camp Nine, an internment camp in Arkansas, gave me a glimpse into the living conditions, isolation, racism and hardships that innocent Japanese Americans had to face, following the actions of their homeland.
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