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We Are Not Free

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  412 ratings  ·  171 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.” 

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 Am
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  412 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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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
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ 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
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
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.
❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Everyone needs to read this.
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
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
Tara Sim
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and necessary book.
chloe ♡
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
Danika at The Lesbrary
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to HMH Books for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This book follows a tight knit group of teens living in Japantown in San Fransisco during WW II.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Japanese American citizens are no longer trusted and the teens find themselves and their families uprooted and forced to live in incarceration camps. The story follows the lives of the teens as they struggle to come to terms with life in the camps and Americas "new" perception of th
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: assault, racism

This historical fiction novel talks about the mass incarceration and forced removal of Japanese American Citizens during World War II. We Are Not Free defies descriptions. A story about fourteen teens united by their bonds to each other and their struggles with identity, it is an emotional story of harassment, enemies and resilience. This historical fiction novel e
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, new-releases
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 -
Jana (HokuGirlReads)
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am sitting here in a book hangover/shock. This was such a great book but a very heavy and hard to read book due to the what the characters went through. I think this is a very important book for people to read and wish it was around when I was a teen in school learning about WW2. If you read this book be sure to read the authors note, it is a important part of the book in my opinion. I am sure I will have more to say when I have processed this book fully, but in the mean time here’s the start ...more
Yna the Mood Reader
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Much thanks to Colored Pages Book Tours for sending me a copy for review and for inviting me to be a part of this tour. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may or may not appear in the final published copy.

An Eye-Opening Read About Japanese-American History

Content Warning: Internment Camps, Racism, Racialprejudice, Abuse, Imprisonment, Hate Crimes, Death, Violence

As a Filipino, discussions on World War II history is not something ne
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Germany they were concentration camps, or work camps, or death camps; in the Soviet Union it was the gulag; in the US it was internment camps. This is a part of US history that is so often pushed aside: thousands upon thousands of Japanese Americans forced out of their homes—forced to sell all their belongings on short notice, at steep discount, and keep only what they could carry—and into remote, guarded camps. Why? Because the US government thought they couldn't be trusted. And why did the ...more
Finitha Jose
I am not affected by this book. I am not an American and it's not my country which committed these atrocities. Why should I be bothered? Then the nightmares began. And I knew. There is no way to run. I cannot forget this story, even if I try to. That's the power of the written word. Who was I kidding again?
Fourteen youths. Incarcerated with their families in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack. This is their story. Written in multiple POVs, reading this book felt like looking through a wi
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed the trajectory of World War II, and the effect it had on the Japanese-American community on the West Coast of the US was incredibly devastating. Ripped from their homes, Japanese-Americans (including US citizens whose only home was here) were stripped of their liberty and freedoms. We Are Not Free follows a group of 14 teenagers from San Francisco and what they and their families endured as they were incarcerated and faced constant indignities and injustices f ...more
Cindy ✩☽♔
Oct 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
OMG I have always wanted a book centered around this time in American history. I look forward to reading this!
Tabi⁷ (ᕗツ)ᕗ
Oct 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: edelweiss
I already love this
Erin Kelly
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 free. But we are not alone.

I do not have the words to accurately describe this book nor my emotions, but I will try my best, keeping in mind that I have read it in the past five hours, and I that have spent the majority of those hours sobbing my eyes out over 300 out of the 400 pages.

The book tells the story of fourteen teenagers from San Francisco who were fo
Sakina (aforestofbooks)
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, 2020
I don't know what to say that will do this book justice. I loved all of it. Every perspective. How all the stories intertwine with each other. It was difficult to read, but very eye-opening. I feel like we maybe spent a few minutes talking about the Japanese incarceration camps during WW2 in school, so I didn't know anything besides the fact that they existed. Seeing the conditions, what the Japanese went through, the difficult decisions they had to make, it felt so similar to what we still see ...more
Andrea Facciponte
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, 2020
“ I want to believe in right and wrong. Here is what’s right. Here is what isn’t. Here is the line.”

We Are Not Free follows 14 Japanese American teenagers, over the span of 3 years, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The story opens and closes with one of the youngest in the group of friends, Minnow. The reader is introduced to his love of drawing in the beginning, and his view of home when they return from Tule Lake. The majority of the plot takes place on the west coast and drifts to parts of
Abby Johnson
Wow wow wow, this is such a powerful and well-crafted book. This is definitely a must-read for lovers of historical fiction or George Takei's recent memoir THEY CALLED US ENEMY. Traci Chee explores the incarceration of Japanese American citizens during WWII through the eyes of 14 different Japanese American teens. Rounded up with their families and sent from San Francisco to live in horse stalls in Tanforan and then barracks in larger camps, these 14 teens range in age from 13-20 and give a wide ...more
"We Are Not Free" follows a recent spate of books that treat the Japanese incarceration camps as their central topic. I'm happy to see this moment in US history gaining traction in fiction, necessary now more than ever.

Following fifteen different teen narrators (you heard me right), this book illustrates almost every facet of life heading into, life inside, and life following the internment camps. Each teen deals with the typical teenage trouble -- family drama, school stress, first relationshi
Traci Chee pulls from extensive research and her own family history to craft an immersive, authentic novel of the forced removal of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II. Chee’s decision to have readers experience the novel through the eyes of 14 friends (most of whom are from the same Japantown neighborhood in San Francisco) could have resulted in a confusing, snarled-up mess. Instead, the unique events that each of these teens experience allow readers to get a ...more
Debbi Florence
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(I read a galley provided by the publisher.) These interconnected stories told from the POV of the Japanese American young people interned during WWII are a must read. I couldn't put this book down - I cringed, smiled, and sobbed as I followed the characters through their journeys. I fell in love with each and every one of them. I will be buying multiple copies of this book when it releases. Chee is an incredibly gifted author. I loved this book!
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yarc, burn-it-down
This book was great. I was a little wary of this book because of the whole 14 different points of view thing, but they were all so well done and individual. I highly recommend picking this book up in September, and I definitely want to pick up Traci Chee's back list soon.
Review on my blog, The Reading Fairy

Note: I am NOT ownvoices for this book, so please read ownvoices reviewers for this book.
Thanks to Colored Pages for having me on this blog tour. I received an ARC via from the publisher and Netgalley for the blog tour-this does not affect my opinion.

TW: War, internment camps, survivor’s guilt, death of a friend, death, blood, violence, racism, use of slurs (y-word, j-word), hate crimes, sexism, poverty, animal death (on page), fire, abuse, imprisonment
Rep: J
Gayatri Saikia   | per_fictionist
“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" by Traci Chee is unequivocally one of the most soulful, heartbreaking and poignant reads I've ever read. Chee puts her whole soul into encapsulating the lives of "fourteen" young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, irreversibly altered following the attack on Pearl Harbor, l
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Traci Chee is an author of YA fiction. 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 State University. Traci grew up in a small tow ...more

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