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We Are Not Free

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4.35  ·  Rating details ·  7,047 ratings  ·  1,477 reviews
“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.” 

We Are Not Free, is 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. inc
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Erin I would absolutely recommend it to middle school kids. There's a little bit of low-key sexual content but nothing gratuitous. …moreI would absolutely recommend it to middle school kids. There's a little bit of low-key sexual content but nothing gratuitous. (less)
Alex
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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 ·  7,047 ratings  ·  1,477 reviews


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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
This book was fantastic. There are a lot of characters but each one felt real and I was able to connect to them even in the short time we had together. This was by no means an easy read, but the author did a fantastic job of writing the story in a way that makes it compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down. I felt for these characters, there was so much emotion packed in here and so much heart. Definitely a must read.
monica kim
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
wow, what a completely stunning and heartbreaking novel about a history we don’t learn enough about. i absolutely adored every page of this and every character. i felt so completely immersed in this group of friends, and my heart cheered and broke for them. truly, this is a novel that feels like an instant classic of the YA category, and i would love to see it taught in schools one day. it comes out this september, and i highly recommend picking it up!

read via an advance copy from hmh
emma
seems like we as a society should probably talk more about the fact that we imprisoned everyone of a certain race not even a century ago.

this book might be a good place to start.

i have a hard time enjoying books like this, where there are about 92 main characters, because i can only generously like 1 character per book (and that's on a good day) plus i get confused, but...

i see the purpose of doing that here. because jesus christ we took away the innocence of thousands of children and the liveli
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I was very excited when I learned about WE ARE NOT FREE, not just because of that amazing cover, but because it's written from the perspective of Japanese-Americans during WWII. In WE ARE NOT FREE, we, the readers, are introduced to the atmosphere of racism many Asian Americans (not just Japanese-Americans) faced due to anti-Japanese sentiments, life in the internment camps, and how it feels to be fighting a war for a country you thought
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Katie B
I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s and World War 2 was covered extensively in history class every year. And yet, I don't remember any of my teachers talking about the US internment/incarceration camps. Pretty sad that most people of my generation can say it wasn't part of their school's curriculum either. I'm thankful this historical fiction book is available for today's generation of young readers. And it certainly is a worthwhile read for an adult as well.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FDR o
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Jessica
Such a powerful, raw, and heartbreaking book. Try not to read this in public because I was listening to this audiobook in the car and started crying uncontrollably near the end. So heartbreaking. This book starts when Japanese Americans are forced into incarcerations camps and their whole lives are upended. The story is told in different perspectives of the teenagers who live in the camp and their journeys over the years. I absolutely loved the audiobook and how we had different narrators for ea ...more
Kat Cho
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Truly a beautiful book! I am so emotional right now and I'm definitely going to have to re-read it because there was so much to take in. It really reminds me of the vibe the Outsiders had in how it represents a close-knit friend group (that's more like family).

A powerful and heartbreaking look into history. We Are Not Free compels us to face the reality that when fear guides us, our humanity suffers.

My official blurb:

A powerful and heartbreaking look into history. In a time when it's integral t
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ahaana ☎️ (semi-hiatus)
the way i cried during this book is not even funny 🥺🥺 my brain cannot process the emotions and i dont think i'll ever be able to write a review for this one ahhhh ...more
cherelle
i weep. this book is pure emotion, pure pain, pure soul i swear. 😭

a ww2 historical fiction centering on the lives of a group of japanese-american teens, through a staggering but brilliantly executed 14 povs, it poignantly touches on the discrimination during the war back then, as well as the indomitable pride despite the identity struggle of these teenagers.

outside is the camp, the barbed wire, the guard towers, the city, the country that hates us. but in here, we are together. we are not fr
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Tatiana
Printz Honor 2021

Very educational, for those who want to learn about internment camps and persecution of Japanese American citizens during WWII. But lacking in vibrant characters. 10+ POVs, almost indistinguishable from one another. Didactic. Important, but not a compelling work in itself.

I'd recommend They Called Us Enemy instead.
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Alex (The Scribe Owl)
6/5 stars because why the heck not, it deserves it.

Thanks to Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This was by far the best standalone, maybe even the best book I’ve read all year. I laughed, I cried, and I cried some more. This was perfect, from the storytelling to the writing and I’m going to have my work cut out for me getting it all into a review, but I’m sure going to try.

Fourteen Japanese-American teenagers grew up together in Japantown, San Francisco. But when the Japanes
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Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Jan 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
I think the topic of this book is incredibly important and I really appreciate the author’s depth of research, as well as her willingness to share anecdotes from her own family’s experiences during this horrific historical event. I think this is a great book to pick up if you’re interested in learning more about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

I think what lost me in this book is that it follows 14 different narrators. While this isn’t technically an anthology since the charact
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Paula M
"It’s been over three months since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and my oldest brother, Mas, has told me to come straight home from school each day."

This novel is a historical fiction that starts three months since the attack on pearl harbor. Readers will be taken through a heartbreaking and yet beautiful journey of the 14 Japanese American who were ripped from their neighborhood in San Francisco and were forced to live off in incarceration camps during WWII.

We Are Not Free is one of the best book
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Tara Sim
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and necessary book.
hiba
a stark, fiercely written story based on the mass incarcerations of japanese-american citizens during world war ii. i'm crushed and hurt and grateful i got to read this incredible book - achingly raw, gutting, necessary. also, the way traci chee managed to write the povs of fourteen people and give each of them a distinct voice is so impressive. highly recommend.

cws: racism, anti-japanese/east asian slurs, hate crimes, physical assault, war, death

rep: japanese-american cast, mlm pov character



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Taury
Jun 22, 2022 added it
Shelves: dnf
It is a YA book. Some are good. Some are not for me.
✨Rashi✨
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-heart, made-me-cry
EDIT- The author has a youtube channel too guys! go check it out!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxM4...
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This is the third and final book I binge read to celebrate the end of my exams (till the next ones come within a month) and words fall short to explain how much this book moved me. I am glad I picked up this book.

The author also has a youtube channel with reasearch storied related to this book on it so check it out!

The book revolves around 14 japanese-amarican teens living in Japantow
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Kasia
Aug 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-library
I've learned about Executive Order 9066 (pretty much an order to incarcerate people of Japanese ancestry) couple years ago when I was reading the book about Dorothea Lange. She visited one of the detention centers and made some very emotional photos of that place. I still remember my shock and disbelief. So when this book showed up on my radar I knew I will have to check it out.

We are not free tells the story of the forced relocation from the perspective of a group of teenagers. Every chapter is
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chloe yeung ♡
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

world war ii is an important part of every history curriculum – we are all taught about the allied powers and the axis powers, the bombings, the gunshots, and sometimes, about the suffering as well. how many people, however, have heard of the japanese american internment camps, and knew the stories of the people who lived there?

in the centre there’s a drawing of a japanese soldier with diagonal
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maryamongstories
Mar 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking, incredibly important book to read. The author managed to create a very bittersweet atmosphere through this story, with the cutest characters trying to fight for what's best, when they're not even sure what that even means.
Sometimes I wish we'd had less points of view to read from, so we got to spend more time in each section, but I loved everything else!
We had a liveshow for the Tea Leaves book club about this book, if you're interested in hearing more of our thoughts 🥰 https:/
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Nev
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
Damn. This book really punched me in the heart. It tells the story of the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II through fourteen different teenage and young adult characters. I was really interested in reading this because, at least when I was in school, this topic was never focused on enough and we didn’t truly get into what a horrific part of our country’s history this was.

Traci Chee is an amazing writer. To have fourteen different POV characters and have them all hav
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Danika at The Lesbrary
This is a book about Japanese-American incarceration camps, told in 14 (!) different teen perspectives, from 1942-1945. 14 different perspectives sounds overwhelming, but they're all in the same loose group of friends (and siblings) who were living in Japantown in San Francisco before their forced removal. It's also told completely chronologically, so each perspective hands off to the next, which makes it easy to follow (even if I did keep track of some characters better than others). This group ...more
bella
Oct 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i’m utterly broken. i went in fully expecting this book to hit close to home, but it affected me even more than i anticipated. i’m truly blown away by how raw and resonant it is. just wow. breathtaking and devastating and heartwarming and everything in between. very much still processing. longer review to come hopefully if/when i can properly express everything i’m feeling about this book. please read it.
Emily
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This might now be my favorite book of the year. I'm going to have to read everything written by Traci Chee.

This YA novel is about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The story is told through multiple perspectives, a group of teenagers who lived in the same neighborhood in San Francisco. I appreciate that they each have individual voices - I never lost track of who's perspective I was reading. Just the fact that there were so many - 14 different character perspectives -
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Alex Nonymous
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 7-8-and-9
Full disclosure, I received a chapter sampler for this a while back from the publisher.

With books like this, it's hard to separate the actual literary value from the importance of the subject matter. I haven't read much about Japanese internment camps and seeing the topic explored in YA felt really important. Thematically wise, I'm glad this book exists. But considering We Are Not Free threw me into a 3-day reading slump, I can't honestly give it a high rating.

This book is ambitious. We have (I
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Renata
Jul 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: stand-alone
This type of books are very important and I think you can include them to a younger audience and it won't be too forced and easy to understand and get the history. The story was so heartbreaking, literally you see how so many people lives are taken away and they have that conflict of understanding if they're americans, why they're not free?

My problem though was having that many points of view, I get the main point of why the author did it but I do think it could have reached more with only one
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Erin Entrada Kelly
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible.
Maddie
”We are not free. But we are not alone.”

TW: death, death of a loved one, grief, racial slurs, racism, violence, xenophobia.

This was a well-written, informative and heartbreaking book with hope at its center - despite all of the atrocities and loss. It was immensely readable and yet difficult to read at once, because of the subject matter.

And it should be difficult to read. Because this is horrible.

I hate to admit that this was a part of history I knew very little about. This book has encourag
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Lisa (Remarkablylisa)
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: may-2021, asian-books
I read a lot of books centered around the Japanese internment camps that took place during world war 2. It's a difficult topic and I can tell Traci did so much research to really covey every POV included in the book. I found myself getting emotional over some scenes and have sympathy over a lot of characters too. I'm taking a star off because the writing was not my style. ...more
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Time Out Book Club: June Book Club 2 5 Jun 08, 2022 08:32AM  

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Traci Chee is a New York Times best-selling author and National Book Award Finalist. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at bonsai gardening, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco ...more

Articles featuring this book

  Ellen Oh is an award-winning author of middle grade and young adult novels, including The Dragon Egg Princess, A Thousand Beginnings and...
111 likes · 35 comments
“Gaman. The ability to hold your pain and bitterness inside you and not let them destroy you. To make something beautiful through your anger, or with your anger, and neither erase it nor let it define you. To suffer. And to rage. And to persevere.” 17 likes
“We are not free. But we are not alone.” 11 likes
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