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Within These Lines

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Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published March 5, 2019

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About the author

Stephanie Morrill

12 books597 followers
Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920's mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: StephanieMorrill.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 322 reviews
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
523 reviews181 followers
February 27, 2019
Okay, so this was actually really good!

I loved the characters, a LOT. Evalina was the kind of girl I feel like doesn't show up enough in fiction--her fiery, compelling spirit was amazing and her love of political science and desire to seek justice made her very relatable for me. She's the kind of girl I am. And then there was Taichi, who was really just the sweetest guy. I approved of him very much.

Other than them, I really liked James, and I liked Evalina's parents. I thought I would like Aiko more than I did, but she turned out to have a smaller part than I'd anticipated and so I didn't feel I'd gotten to know her as well as I might have hoped. The rest of the side characters, while compelling, were kind of basic.

I really liked the story, but therein lies my biggest quibble: This story felt sort of disjointed.

There were a LOT of big moments, and big decisions, and plot twists, but I kept feeling like I was missing something. And finally, I figured out why: it's because the story kept skipping those beats. Something big would happen and we'd find out after the fact. Within these Lines jumped over the important moments a bit too much in my opinion, which is disappointing, because I would have LOVED to feel just the tiniest bit more emotion within the story. The disjointedness was rather disconcerting.

Other than that quibble--which may be a Faith quibble and not one that concerns anyone else--I really enjoyed this one! The characters were compelling, and so were their struggles; the epilogue made me super happy. I can definitely recommend this one. :) 3.5 stars!
Profile Image for Lilian.
269 reviews11 followers
March 7, 2019
w o w what a beautiful piece of historical fiction! I had been looking forward to reading some of Mrs. Morrill’s books lately and I’m so glad to say that Within These Lines did not disappoint!

I’ve never been one to read and really enjoy historical fiction, but I loved this book – it honestly inspired me to research more about 1940s and read more books set in that timeframe. Within These Lines deals with many things, but mainly daily life in internment camps. This is one of the only times I’ve seen books approach this topic so closely and so raw and near to the matter, and I love that the book wasn’t shrouded in depression and darkness, but rather in hope – even though the situation was full of despair.

This will be an unpopular opinion, but the characters missed the mark for me. I loved reading about Evalina and Taichi and their families – I really did, but I feel like I was in it more for what happened + learning more about the internment camps than for the characters. I really admire Evalina’s courage and fiery passion though, and I love Taichi’s positive attitude. It really inspired me. My favorite character was probably Aiko, though. I love her snarkiness and sarcasm and general character – she really added life and flavor to the story and I loved it whenever she made an appearance. 😉

Overall, A+ for the historical-ness of this book! I loved getting a glimpse into the internment camp, and I think most people would really benefit from reading this book. I adored reading Mrs. Morrill’s fluid and engaging writing style as well. 4 stars.

ftc disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lydia Howe.
Author 4 books74 followers
March 5, 2019
(Skip down to read my official review)


I just thought y'all should get that public service announcement. And you should probably go pre-order it, too. I pre-ordered it. And then I was blown away by also being chosen to review an ARC copy.

This book, folks, tells a much-needed story and one pretty much everyone should be familiar with. So, you should probably just add it to your "Highly Anticipated for 2019" list and then block off a few days to read it when it comes out.

It's amazing. And drags you straight into the fray of what was going on kinda "behind the scenes" in America during WW2. And also has fantastic writing. I'll post a full review eventually.

* * * *

Within These Lines is about Evalina, an Italian-American, and Taichi, the son of Japanese immigrants. Life as they know it is disrupted when America enters WW2 and anti-Japanese feelings sweep across the country. Taichi and his family are forced to move to a Japanese-American internment camp where life is anything but a bed of roses. (Okay, maybe it’s a bed of roses, just the thorns part.)

This book is fantastically well-researched and superbly written as the author tackles the often untalked about subject of what America did with Japanese during the war. I remember the first time I was introduced to the subject of American internment camps I was horrified. This book does an amazing job of making the camps and situation come to life and wraps you up in the story until you feel like you’re right there in the drafty, crowded shacks with Taichi. Although it’s a very sad and unfair part of our country’s history, I think it’s important that we don’t bury and forget it, because history has a tendency to repeat itself.

This book is real and gritty and sad without being hopeless – the author somehow hit a great balance with making the book exceedingly real while still being interesting and giving the readers the hope that better things are in store.

The characters are well-crafted and even though I didn’t like the way the handled certain things, they stayed very consistent to their character/personality. It was interesting to see how different cultures handled the various issues and troubles they faced. The author did an amazing job at creating a truly American/Japanese character in Taichi, vs. simply slapping a Japanese name onto an American character.
Profile Image for Roseanna White.
Author 40 books2,859 followers
July 18, 2018
Within These Lines will steal your breath, your heart, and your thoughts for days after you’ve finished. An always-timely look at prejudice and the importance of taking action combines with a tale of deepest love and self-sacrifice. Flawless and beautiful.
Profile Image for Abigayle Claire.
Author 9 books223 followers
March 5, 2019
4.5 stars

This is one of the most engaging and yet educational pieces of historical fiction I've ever read. Rather than the historical fiction that puts a spin on a familiar time and feels compelled to have an extravagant fiction element, this piece really shone a light on the history itself. The characters and events, though somewhat fictionalized, felt very real. Historical.

I liked Evalina more than I expected to as she was a fiery girl who often can't keep her mouth closed. Those sort of female characters easily annoy me with their lack of self-control. I think what made the difference with Evalina was her empathy and tenderness being at the heart of her passionate stand against injustice. While all of the characters were nice, I liked her the best.

My favorite thing about Taichi, other than his general sweetness, was his nonviolent approach. Even though his complacency did not always gain him anything, his refusal to spurn his country or lash out in return paid off in the end. That longsuffering and faith in the greater good is something hard to find in the face of political conflict these days.

The book struck a very nice balance in how it exposed the blatant truth of these events. Instead of being dramatic, detailed, and raw (I'm often unable to read such things when it's real events), there are just enough horrible, inhumane things for discomfort, righteous anger, and sympathy. The power was often in what was left unsaid. I enjoyed getting to learn more about this inglorious piece of America's history while also being sucked into a compelling drama.

Overall it was well-written, but I found some of the scene breaks to be a little abrupt and had a hard time remembering which category of Japanese was which. Also: the cover fits really, really well.

Recommended for ages 12+ for some peril and mild violence that may be distressing to sensitive readers.

I received a review copy. The opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for ✧˖° lydia °˖✧ {semi-hiatus}.
191 reviews170 followers
December 31, 2022
Historical fiction star-crossed romance will always be superior.

So, naturally, I loved this book.

I know a lot about the events of Pearl Harbor (I live in Hawai'i after all 😏), but I've never read anything about exactly what happened at the Japanese camps. It's not as bad as Jewish concentration camps, for sure, but it's still sickening what the Japanese Americans went through just because of their heritage, even though the majority of them were American citizens and completely loyal. This lovely book shed light on those events.

I loved Taichi and Evalina; they were simply meant to be together, and I loved every second of them. The book was fast-paced and attention holding, and I was never, ever bored.

My one problem is that I finished the book feeling almost... dissatisfied? There was a lot of build-up, it seemed to me, to Evalina doing something brave and daring in defense of the Japanese Americans, maybe connected to her college class struggle. But those plot lines are never wrapped up. Even in the epilogue it never mentions what she did until the government freed the Japanese and what happened with college. It's just like... she becomes bolder and bolder, speaking out in their defense, and then... it ends. 🥲

In spite of that, it was still very good and I definitely recommend it to my lovers of historical fiction 💞
Profile Image for Hailey Rose.
Author 5 books105 followers
March 23, 2019
You know those books that just kinda blow your socks off with their awesomeness? Yeah, this is one of these books.

Within These Lines far exceeded my expectations. After reading so much WWII fiction, most of which is focused on military stories and nurses, having a story based in California about a totally different subject is a nice change. It's so cool to get a new perspective and see what life could have been like for an average citizen during the war.

I related with Evalina more than I've related with any other character. Her determination, her "unique combo of fire and grace" (love that one xD), her tender heart toward the oppressed, and empathic spirit so strong she can almost feel other people's pain... I related to the empathetic side of her so much. The desperately wanting to not care so much. *sobs*

How Evalina handled her friendships at home and college was also really neat to see. She had struggles with friends. Struggles knowing what friendships to let go. I feel like that's a pretty common thing to deal with in this phase of life that not a lot of books address, so I really appreciated that element.

I didn't know much about the Japanese-American camps during the war. I knew they existed, but I had no idea what they were like and the horrors that went on inside. This book was a perfect glimpse into that, and was entertaining as well as educational.

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Profile Image for Keturah Lamb.
Author 3 books48 followers
December 21, 2018
This book made me mad. In the sort of way that means I love it so much and will be recommending it to a lot of people. Wow, it's so powerful. I'd known that America had concentration camps during WWII. But I hadn't really read much about them. But wow. America was (and is) the bigger hypocrite to have had something like this and then turn around and condemn Hitler.

It's just disgusting.

I loved (and related way too much with) Evalina. Her anger at injustice. How she made politics personal. As she said, it wasn't about politics, but people. Evalina is a strong character that should motivate and inspire more of us to be the same; brave enough to stand against a crowd of injustices even if it brings us great discomfort.

At first I wasn't sure about Taichi's POV (the male POV). I'd just finished listening to the last Divergent audio book before reading this book, and while I had loved Four in the previous two books I did not like his first-person voice. And at first I imagined Taichi to sound like that. But as the book progressed that feeling wore off and I grew to really love Taichi's perspective so very much.

I really loved Diego - he grew on me. As did most of Taichi's friends and acquaintances.

Part of me had expected to see more of Gia, so I was a tad disappointed not, to. But even so, I did enjoy all of her parts. Though I wonder why Evalina was friends with her? Maybe because their parents were?

I also really loved Tony and felt sorry for him at first. I would have liked to see more of him, too.

As for the ending . . . that was riveting. By the time Evalina was in a certain tree I was certain major characters were about to die and was bracing myself for something horrible.

I won't give away spoilers, but I'll say that I thought the ending amazing.

I really likes a line Morrill used to describe James in one of the later chapters, "Crowd are a flame that draws his inner moth."

In fact this book was full of beautifully written lines, especially within the first few chapters. And the font is rather unique - all the question marks look like they are upside down. At first I thought it had to be a printing error ;D

This book was beyond amazing and definitely one of my favorite reads of all year. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT IF NOT JUST FOR THE JAPANESE CAMPS HISTORY.

As for content, it was clean. Romance was clean and minimal considering the plot. Nothing that would make one cringe. Some kissing. No language. Nothing crude. There was some violence (it's a war novel after all), but nothing too graphic. Lots of racial persecution.
Profile Image for Malia Saldaña.
262 reviews12 followers
June 14, 2020
I knew this book was going to be hard to read. I didn’t think it would be that hard!!!! Oh my gosh! The ending was good though. My favorites were Diego, Aiko, and James.
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 8 books125 followers
May 2, 2019
Great story, even though I didn't love everything about it. Three and a half stars.

What I loved:

- The richness & diversity of the historical premise (interracial romance between an Italian-American girl and a Japanese-American boy, set against the background of Japanese internment during WW2.) This is GOOD AND IMPORTANT STUFF and WE NEED MORE OF IT IN FICTION. Particularly YA fiction. We get too many 'cookie cutter' World War II books about happy 'ordinary' [read: white] people fighting happily to take down Hitler's Nazis; and yes, that was part of it, but that's not the whole story. There was also racism and oppression and ugliness on the home front, some of it literally done IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM and the name of the war effort. One huge piece of that ugliness is the story of the Japanese relocation camps. It's real, people. It happened. We need to be honest about it. Within These Lines is a step in the right direction.
- Stephanie Morrill makes the world of the internment camps come to life in excruciating detail, on a level I'd certainly never experienced before--and I'm a professional historian! Who focuses on World War II! But even I didn't know how horrible conditions were for the imprisoned Japanese; the hunger, the cold, the lack of privacy, the constant sickness, the unrest and violence. Again, A++ for bringing a dark chapter of American history to light.
- THE PAST IS SO MUCH RICHER AND MORE VARIED THAN WE GIVE IT CREDIT FOR and that truth is on full display here. Just because interracial marriage was illegal (yes! illegal!) in America in the 1940s didn't mean it never happened! I once read a Tumblr post that said "people don't stop living their own lives just cuz you make a law against it" and that's exactly what Within These Lines is all about. The spaces between and around the lines which the Powers That Be draw to try and fence us in. Evalina and Taichi don't care that the law says they can't be in love. They ARE in love. Period. Full stop.
- Speaking of Evalina and Taichi, I adored them both as characters. So much.
- Evalina reminds me of myself, in both good and bad ways: serious, passionate, hyper-sensitive, prone to depression, wanting nothing more than to speak the truth and speak it L O U D L Y. I love her political engagement, all the more so because it goes so starkly against what society expected of women in the 1940s. I love her goals of university education and a career as a lawyer. I love the scene where she Lays Down the Law to her best friend's mom, "You think all Japanese-Americans are automatic traitors? How about Italian-Americans? Are you loyal to your country of adoption?" #oooh burn #ya just got schooled
- Taichi is an Precious Cinnamon Roll who Didn't Deserve Any of This, and that's the truth. He is darling. A true gentleman. There were definitely scenes when I got a little frustrated with him for not standing up for what he really wanted [especially to his parents]; but, on the whole, his character arc pleased me greatly. He is sweet and solid.
- And can I just pause here to give a big round of applause to Taichi's best friend Diego?
- [I'm serious]
- Taichi's sister Aiko was my absolute favorite character in the entire book. I am SO HERE for the 'rebellious angsty sibling turned wise mentor' trope, as it mirrors my own familial experiences in a very special way. <333 "Sometimes, Taichi, we do all the right things and life still kicks us in the teeth just as hard as if we'd done wrong." *ugly sobbing*

What I didn't love:

- We needed stronger romantic scenes between Evalina and Taichi, to build up their chemistry. I understand that these kids are working at a heavy disadvantage in terms of illegality & parental disapproval, so oftentimes they can't show their affection outwardly; but still. There WERE several specific places where an opportunity for a Really Good Kissing Scene was simply glossed over; or where a passionate love letter was written but not read in the reader's presence. I need to see these things. You can't just leave me to imagine them. I need to SEE them.
- Too many side characters. Diego was excellent, Aiko was excellent--but Gia and Lorenzo and Tony and Mary and Rose and James kinda all blended together in my mind, after a while.
- If Diego Medina is (as is strongly implied) Mexican-American, why isn't he facing serious discrimination as well? Things were BAD for Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression and World War II, particularly in the California farm communities where this story takes place. Yet Diego seems to walk the racial landscape pretty much unscathed, in contrast to poor Taichi who faces oppression at every turn. That . . . felt 'off,' to me.
- I have mixed feelings about
- Now, my biggest complaint:
- Without exception, ALL the characters in this book (Japanese, Italian, and Anglo-Saxon) use the word 'Caucasian' to refer to white people, both in their speech and in their internal monologues. For this time period, such language is highly, highly unusual. 'Caucasian' was then (as it is now) a mainly academic/pseudo-scientific term to describe what most of us know simply as whiteness. Evalina and Taichi and their friends would have seen their world not in terms of 'Caucasian' vs. 'non-Caucasian,' but 'white' vs. 'not-white'.
- Why does this linguistic distinction matter? Because THE STORY OF JAPANESE INTERNMENT IS A STORY OF WHITE SUPREMACY. Of white privilege. Of white identity. We are talking about racism, here; and the potency of American racism depends on the potency of whiteness, not of 'Caucasian-ness.' Think how weird it would sound if Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird suddenly said something along the lines of, "Oh, Tom Robinson is in jail because they say he raped a Caucasian girl." No. That's not why he went to jail, and we all know it. He went to jail because he was accused of raping a WHITE girl.
- When you can say the word "Jap," but you can't say the word "white," the racial underpinnings of this entire oppressive system are [unintentionally] glossed over. And we don't want that. We want them out in the open. For all the world to see.
- *deep breath* Look, I know this may seem nitpicky to some of y'all, and I'm sorry. But this matters a lot to me.

Conclusion: Within These Lines is a powerful tale of love and loyalty during a dark chapter in American history, a chapter which needs to be more widely known. Although I do have criticisms, don't mistake my criticisms for a non-recommendation. On the contrary, I HIGHLY recommend this book. To EVERYONE. Even if you're not a fan of historical fiction, please read this. It'll make you think. <3
Profile Image for Amelie.
193 reviews33 followers
March 7, 2021
Raw, beautiful, heartbreaking, moving, and powerful, I loved this World War II historical fiction. Admittedly, I was skeptical since the plot seemed to revolve heavily around romance. However, I’d enjoyed Stephanie Morrill’s other historical fiction, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, a couple years ago, so I was willing to give this one a try.

I’m so glad I did.

This is a romance, but it’s more than that. It’s about recognizing the ugliness of racism, standing up for what is right even if no one else cares, thinking for yourself when others are intent on pushing propaganda on you, and having a compassionate heart even in the midst of the world’s darkness.

Evalina was a wonderful protagonist, fiery, compassionate, and brave. Taichi was also amazing; he was so sweet and gentle and humble. I found myself rooting for them throughout the whole story.
(Also, I enjoyed the fact that they had fallen in love before the story started, so it wasn’t a romance based on some unrealistic insta-love or solely on physical attraction. They were willing to fight for each other, even through the trials of the Japanese-American evacuation.)

All the secondary characters were believable and important, and most of them were likable (the ones who were not meant to be likable were horrible...Raymond Yashimi, anyone?). I especially loved Diego and Aiko - both wise, caring friends and/or siblings. I also liked Tony a lot, too, even though he was hardly in it. And both the Hamasaki and the Cassano parents were great.

The author did a fantastic job researching the story - the history breathes life into the story. The setting feels so real and authentic in every place the characters are, whether it’s San Francisco or Manzanar.

The story was beautiful and horrible at the same time. My heart hurt for the Japanese-Americans and the injustice and indignities to which they were submitted. Stephanie Morrill powerfully explored themes of justice and racism with heartbreaking insightfulness and historical authenticity.

A few minor quibbles: Evalina cried a LOT. Nearly every scene she’s in, she’s either crying or on the verge of tears. I completely understand the heartache she’s experiencing, but at the same time I don’t think it’s realistic for her to cry AS MUCH as she does. It was a little bit repetitive and distracting at times.
Also, there are a couple allusions to a character who became pregnant outside of marriage. While the author doesn’t say that it was a good thing she did that, she also didn’t clarify the wrongness of it.

As a whole, though, this is a beautiful YA historical fiction, and I would recommend it to any lovers of reading and history who are 14-15 and up.

Content Cautions: allusions to a character who had a miscarriage after becoming pregnant out of wedlock; a couple nondescript kisses; mild violence and descriptions of appalling conditions at the Japanese relocation sites and camps; obviously, racism is a big part of the story

Profile Image for Ry.
129 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2023
That. Was. Amazing! Ahhhhhh soo good! I loved the storyline (been in a reading slump lately so I haven't finished many books in 4 days lately XD). But that *looks at person who'd die laughing at me for saying this but thankfully doesn't have goodreads* was relatable. Like wow.... *stares at life* (ok the whole war thing wasn't relatable but the *COUGHS* romance *also looks at other person who'd laugh at me for saying this who does have goodreads* was uh ya anyway MOVING ON.) IT WAS SOOO GOOD! *dies* Great book
Profile Image for Ava (✿◕‿◕✿).
63 reviews33 followers
February 5, 2023
4.5 stars ⭐️

“Why are oranges considered lucky?”

“I’m not sure,” says Mrs. Ling. “I have always thought they were the perfect fruit because they are the easiest to share. There’s something lovely about that.”

I couldn’t put it down! And when I wasn’t reading it, it was all I could think about. 😭😭😭
Stephanie Morrill powerfully and bluntly describes the conditions of the camps the Japanese Americans were sent to after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the discrimination the they faced. Plus- the story was 🥹🥹🥹

Two lovebirds, one Japanese and one Italian, are forced apart during the evacuation. Enable to see each other, they keep in touch the only way they could, through letters.

I basically held my breath through the whole book bc I was so scared they wouldn’t end up together 🫢 but alas I don’t want to spoil, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself if you want to know 🤫✨

ig I didn’t really realize how badly the Japanese Americans were treated until I read this book! I definitely recommend! I looooove historical fiction sm and this one was just amazing 😍

Theoretically it deserved five stars, but I knocked 1/2 off because of how the main characters lied and snuck behind their parents’ backs to be together. Idk it’s literally a pet peeve of mine when characters do that lol 🙃🙃🙃

that aside, PLZ go read this book! 🤍🤍🤍

Content: 1/5
so clean! The only warning would be violence/talk of people dying/people getting shot etc. 🫶🏻
Profile Image for Joey.
219 reviews82 followers
July 26, 2019
I know i say wow a lot in review of books I love but
Kay, I’m done.
This book deals with racism happening during World War Two. It’s a hard book, but that’s what makes it so beautiful.
The lovelies:
The characters were so fabulous and amazing. I also realized a little in that the main character (Evalina) is related to the characters from The Lost Girl of Astor Street. ❤️ that was a pleasant surprise, seeing I hadn’t made that connection before
The history: I’m not a huge history person, but i definitely love a good historical book. This was well researched, and very accurate, to the point where it hurt (as it should).
The romance: yay! More not cheesy romance from Stephanie Morril! Everything that happens between Taichi and Evalina seems very realistic, something that could very well have been based on a true story.
Not so lovelies:
I gave this book a five star rating, so really there shouldn’t be anything in this section.
I guess the beginning was a little slow though, but it still instantly sucked me in. Besides, I don’t mind slow books at all.
Happy reading guys!
Profile Image for Sarah Sundin.
Author 18 books2,845 followers
March 6, 2019
Thought provoking and timely, Within These Lines highlights a dark period in history. Through compelling characters, we see the injustice and feel the fears and doubts and dilemmas. But mostly, we see the shimmering ribbon of hope through Evalina and Taichi’s unrelenting love. Stephanie Morrill has written a novel to ponder, a novel to cherish.
Profile Image for Jill Williamson.
Author 59 books1,444 followers
December 7, 2018
This book was amazing. I'd never read anything about the internment camps in the United States during World War II. This story teaches history while it entertains. I loved the characters so much and was rooting for them! I can't wait until everyone can read this one.
Profile Image for E.C..
Author 1 book80 followers
August 30, 2021
First of all, this book was unexpectedly good.

I do have to admit, I was highly skeptical when I read the blurb and realized this book centered largely around a romantic relationship.

But the romance wasn't at all like what I was expecting.

It was really clean. It focused on dedication and loyalty - not physical at all (though there were a couple kisses, they weren't described). So I didn't hate the romance in this book. And because I didn't hate the romance, I didn't hate the characters. :)

The main thing I didn't like was how there weren't very high stakes up until about 3/4 of the way through the book. It seemed to be the same "Taichi adjusting to the camp/Evalina crying" over and over again. The other 1/4 was action-packed, but it seemed to resolve itself too quickly.

But overall, I was pleasantly surprised by WITHIN THESE LINES! The themes were strong and beautifully handled. I'd recommend it to YA historical readers, or even mature middle-grade readers.
Profile Image for Megan Wilcox.
Author 4 books34 followers
April 2, 2019
*sighs, sets book aside, stares off into space, sniffs sadly that it is over*
Five shining stars for this wonderful book!
I never knew about the horrible things that happened to the Japanese, Japanese/Americans, following Pearl Harbor. So heartbreaking!
But gosh, this was such a good book!
After being a bit tired of only reading theology/apologetics books lately, this was an excellent choice, I daresay!
I was unsure about the writing style at first, but my hesitation faded away as I was caught up in the story.
I don't like romance/love stories, usually, but this one... *hugs Evalina and Taichi*. I wuved this. <3
I'm excited to read more of Stephanie Morrill's work!
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
Author 4 books68 followers
March 5, 2019
Originally posted on Word Play (www.gabriellenblog.wordpress.com).

This was such a good book! I loved both of the protagonists, and only wish I could've seen more of them (especially together).

-Characters. Love these precious cinnamon rolls. 'Nuff said.
-Time period--I don't know a lot about what went on at home during WWII, so I appreciated this alternative look at this difficult time in history.
-All the emotion. Normally, I'm not a fan of strong emotion, but this book did it just right. Loved it.

-I really wanted to see the story of how Taichi and Evalina fell in love in the first place. We only saw snatches of it in flashbacks, which made me sad. In other words, more Evalina and Taichi!!!
-The plot wasn't what I was expecting (but this could just be because I'm not super familiar with the genre.) I kept looking for a clear rising action, climax, and falling action, but it wasn't as clean cut as I expected.
-The ending felt a wee bit rushed (not enough winding down from such a build-up). Also, I would've liked to see more of what happened between the ending and the epilogue. GIVE ME MORE TAICHI AND EVALINA. Ahem...please?

4.5 stars! Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Content warnings:
Sexual: light kisses, not described. One character has a miscarriage out of wedlock before the story, and it is mentioned a few times.
Language: Racial slurs are used against characters of Japanese descent.
Violence: The Japanese Americans are often targets of attacks--both from Caucasians and Japanese loyalists. Several violent incidents occur on page, but none are graphic.

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for the review copy!
Profile Image for mary liz.
213 reviews18 followers
May 29, 2020
I'm pleased to say this met my expectations (and exceeded them in some ways!)

This book has important things to say & the INJUSTICE MADE ME ANGRY. (But like, in a good way.)

Highly recommended!

I would love to do a full review but as usual, I make no promises lol. Suffice to say, this was a Very Good Read and I recommend it.

4 stars
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,549 reviews79 followers
January 3, 2022
I've already confessed to having a type, and this one fits the mold to perfection. It's extremely similar to "This Light Between Us" by Andrew Fukuda. In fact, I'd go so far as to say its the same story but a different take and both beautiful in their right. Please take time to read either one of these wonderful masterpieces.
Profile Image for Brian McBride.
Author 9 books193 followers
March 29, 2019
I read WITHIN THESE LINES in a day. This book is so good. I loved the characters. I loved Evalina’s fiery spirit and Taichi’s tender heart. I loved Diego’s (best fictional best friend award goes to this guy btw) protectiveness and Aiko’s honesty. I loved the story and the language and the prose and the fact that this wasn’t a will-they-won’t-they romance - it was a we-love-each-other-so-we’re-gonna-fight-together kind of romance. Which is something you rarely see in fiction these days.

The story wasn’t contrived and it tackled a dark, dark time in our nation’s history without demonizing anyone, but considering everyone.

Stephanie captured one of the lesser-known atrocities of WWII in such a raw and compelling way. Loved it so much!
Profile Image for Rachelle Cobb.
Author 8 books290 followers
March 10, 2019
I will think about this book long after I close it. What a stunning, stunning story. Well-written. Haunting. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,077 followers
January 3, 2019
A softly beautiful tale told with a magnetic pull that tugs you in to its history and lasting resonance. Timeless themes of prejudice and racism are met with timeless romance and through these, Morrill uses Within These Lines to prove her incredible range.

As per her trademark, the characterization is dimensional. Evalina and Taichi become the reader's immediate friends.

A lingering treatise on heritage and tradition but also the power of love to span culture and conflict.

A tenacious heroine and an unforgettable connection are at the heart of this novel that will smack of an eerie contemporary resonance as it fits within current headlines with deft historical aplomb and a challenge to let no line sever love, compassion, hope and kinship.
Profile Image for Leah Good.
Author 2 books184 followers
February 21, 2019
How can someone be loyal to a country that has cast him out? How can love survive when all the odds stand against it? How can goodness prevail when those fighting for freedom also violate the virtue they've gone to war to protect?

Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki were never meant to be together ... yet they are determined to be together anyway. But that was before Pearl Harbor. Before people saw an enemy in the slant of Taichi's eyes and the tint of his skin. Before he was evacuated to a detainment camp with no idea of when or if he'll be allowed to leave. What can two young people fresh out of high school do in the face of such overwhelming opposition?

I am so happy I stumbled across the opportunity to read Stephanie Morrill's new book to help with its launch. I was a little skeptical at the love story premise. I like my fiction to be clean and relatively free of sappiness. Happily, I can report that this book, though definitely holding a love story, is both clean (a few mentions of kissing) and any sappiness holds a hard won place in the story.

WWII holds such a prominent place in our countries history. Our memories of the Greatest Generation are closely tied to heroic deeds and rousing patriotism. In the midst of all the well deserved laud, it's easy to overlook the grimmer parts of the USA's journey through WWII. Morrill does a fantastic job of shedding light on this page of history with raw realism, sensitivity, and relevance.

I'm still processing the themes and lessons of this book (stay tuned for a probably future blog post), but this quote from Evalina resonated with me, "As the brilliant sunset cools to gray, I vow my anger over blatant discrimination will not cool. As these rocks stay steady through season changes and time, so I will remain steady. I will not be silent. I will not let this go.” Stories like this remind me not to judge neighbors (Luke 10:25-37) based on fear and assumptions. Stories like this inspire me to be courageously compassionate, fiercely loyal, and graciously determined. And stories like this remind me that holding to one's convictions and moral compass is always the right course of action, even when your pride is bruised and your loyalty tested.

I'm excited for this book to release and for others to enjoy it as much as I did.

*I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book free of charge. I am under no obligation to give a positive review. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

P.S. Want to read another book set around the Japanese Internment Camps? Try Weedflower.
Profile Image for Fiction Aficionado.
659 reviews86 followers
March 9, 2019
Within the Lines may have been written for a young adult audience, but it is a story that will appeal to young adult and not-so-young adult readers alike. In saying that, I think this is a must-read for young adult readers in particular, because it is an eye-opening reminder of the pain and inhumanity people inflict on one another when they allow fear and anger to guide them. If we don’t teach the generations to come about these lesser-known parts of history, however shameful they may be, we doom them to make the same mistakes, and in Evalina and Taichi’s story, the shame of the past is couched in a story of determination, resilience, and a love that perseveres in spite of the obstacles in its path.

Evalina and Taichi both resonated with me for different reasons. Evalina is a young woman who knows her own mind and chafes against a world that doesn’t always see things the same way she does. As she says at one point, “My soul is so loud, it’s hard to keep the rest of me quiet.” Taichi is equally determined to help people see the truth, but his method is quiet compliance. Surely if they comply peacefully with the military evacuation order, the government will see that they pose no threat. But that optimism is shattered when they arrive at their new accommodation and realise just how much dignity they’ve lost in twenty-four hours.

Their story is told simply but beautifully, their struggles touching on some of the most foundational truths of what it means to be human. And there are some powerful quotes from the story that will stay with me:

“Shame has given birth to anger inside my chest, and there are precious few safe places for us to show our anger. To one another is the only one we have left.” (Taichi on the general atmosphere when they arrive at the military facility)

“As these rocks stay steady through season changes and time, so I will remain steady. I will not be silent. I will not let this go.” (Evalina)

“Change is a gradual thing. We have to chip away at the heart-heartedness of others and ourselves. We have to gradually open eyes, not just grab eyelids and yank them open.” (advice to Evalina)

“You have always excelled at fighting for others. But if you want to have the strength to continue to do so, you must value yourself enough to fight your own battles too.” (advice to Evalina)

If I were to voice just one complaint it would be that the story seemed to wrap up a little quickly, but even so, this is a story that will stay with me for some time.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for Allyson.
Author 6 books103 followers
September 5, 2019
I remember first hearing about this book on Mrs. Morrill's Facebook author page, and I have been dying to read it since then. Fast-forward several months later, and I'm hardcore fangirling about this beautiful book. <3


Focus on Japanese-American Internment Camps
My favorite aspect of Within These Lines is that the author went into the book with the purpose to realistically portray how Japanese-Americans were treated while living in internment camps during World War II. The descriptions in the book are proof alone that the author thoroughly researched the topic at hand and aptly portrayed the conditions through her characters. Though I didn't know much about Manzanar, or the internment of Japanese-Americans before reading this book, it has definitely piqued my interest in learning more about that time period.

Taichi and Evalina
These two, gah! <3 It's rare that YA books tackle relationships that have pre-existed before the beginning of the story, but this book does so flawlessly! I absolutely love Taichi and Evalina together, and watching them endure the threats of separation, judgment, and war made their love story all the more endearing. <3

The Supporting Characters
Each and every one of the supporting characters had their own unique personalities and contributed to the story. Though I liked Taichi's friends, James and Diego, I wasn't the biggest fan of Gia or Tony, two of Evalina's friends. Nevertheless, I feel they all added needed perspectives to the story about the issue of the internment camps.

Evalina's Persistence
The thing I love most about Evalina is her determination to seek justice for the Japanese-Americans who were wrongfully imprisoned due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her rift with her college professor over opposing political viewpoints raised an important issue, and I felt that Evalina handled the situation well as she pointed out people can have opposing views without the other person being deemed wrong or ignorant. Evalina serves as a terrific role model for young girls who are politically-minded but also fear of being judged for having different viewpoints than their peers.
Profile Image for Lisa Mandina.
1,903 reviews436 followers
March 3, 2019
Although this one actually started off slow for me, and I was unsure if I would like it, it really redeemed itself in the end. I usually love historical fiction like this, especially when it is about certain parts of history that I only know the bare minimum about. To be honest, the only thing I really knew about the Japanese detainment camps during WWII had to do with what I'd learned from one of the characters in the original Karate Kid movie. Yeah, I know, that's sad. I'm sure I learned other things in school, but that is all that stuck with me.

The book started out seeming like it was just going to be a pretty simple romance story with some of the historical times that it was set in. But once we got to the point where Taichi got sent to the camp, it really got into what resonated with me. The fact that here in America we would start a camp, and run it, almost as bad as what the Nazi's were doing in Germany, frustrates me. However, the book reminded me about how the press made sure to only cover what made it look like the camps were nice relaxing, fun places. That the truth of the matter wasn't really shown. That kind of detail is so relevant in today's world, when we hear about fake news, and you hear that governments or companies, want to control what is reported.

But it wasn't just the Japanese interment camp parts that this book really brought up. There was also the bit that Evalina had to deal with not only as a female, but also as a minority in the country at that time as well. The fact that inter-racial marriage was so illegal at that time, so much more than really ever occurred to me, a very sheltered girl when I was growing up in the suburbs of the 80s.

Overall this was a great historical fiction for teens, and I look forward to putting it in my school library for my students to read.

Review first posted on Lisa Loves Literature.
Profile Image for Ryan Elizabeth.
155 reviews
January 25, 2022
Oh man, this was a great book. Ever since I saw there was a new YA historical fiction novel coming out from Blink I was excited. And, I was even more excited when I saw it was by Stephanie Morrill, an author who runs an awesome blog with a few other great authors (GoTeenWriters). I was even MORE excited when I saw it was on sale on kindle, so of course, I purchased it. This book was emotional and so lovely and not quite like anything I've read before. I can't think of anything negative to say except for the surprising number of typos I found...but that's not exactly a problem with the book's content of course.

I loved the characters. Evalina had such a unique personality & Taichi was so so sweet. It was absolutely heartbreaking reading what he went through especially since I hadn't known too much about the Japanese internment camps until reading this.

This book is an incredible, eye-opening, & clean read I'd recommend to his-fic fans.
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