Sunday, February 5, 2012

Book review: Dear Canada: Torn Apart by Susan Aihoshi

Dear Canada: Torn Apart by Susan Aihoshi (Published by Scholastic Canada, February 1, 2012)

Mary Kobayashi begins a diary after receiving one as a present for her twelfth birthday in May 1941. Although there is a war going on in Europe, it seems very far away from Vancouver. At first, Mary writes mostly about her everyday life - school, friends, Girl Guides meetings, and summer camp. But when Japan attacks the United States at Pearl Harbor later that year, everything changes forever.

Even though Mary and her siblings were born in Canada to immigrant parents who became naturalized citizens of their new country, many people are suspicious of anyone with Japanese heritage. Soon, restrictions are placed upon them and the other Japanese Canadians in their community. They must observe a strict curfew, give up cars, radios, and cameras, and many are forced to leave their homes. Mary is left wondering if her life will ever be the same again.

I expected Torn Apart to be mainly about Mary's experiences in an internment camp, based upon the publisher's description and the subtitle "The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi." It's actually mainly about her life in Vancounter during the year and a half leading up to those events - only the last forty pages or so of the book are set at the internment camp Mary and her family are sent to. Although this book was not one of my top favorites from the Dear Canada series, I still overall enjoyed it. The author, whose parents and grandparents spent part of World War II in an internment camp, brought to life the injustices suffered by people of Japanese descent in Canada and the United States during the war. I recommend this book to readers who enjoyed other Dear Canada books (or the similar Dear America series), or who are interested in this era of history.

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