Select language, opens an overlay
We Are Not Free

We Are Not Free

eBook - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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 American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II. Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco. Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted. Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : HMH Books, 2020
ISBN: 9780358330004
Branch Call Number: EBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
JCLChrisK Apr 15, 2021

This follows a group of 14 Japanese friends and siblings (from 9 families), a tight-nit group of neighbors from Japan Town in San Francisco, for three years during World War II, from the exclusion act after the bombing of Pearl Harbor through multiple forced relocations to the end of the war. Most of them become adults during this period. They take turns telling the story in different ways, from simple narration to letters to poetry and more.

As do the events the characters experience, the story starts fairly mundanely and almost dully--if unpleasantly--then builds continuously in weight and power until readers can't help but drown in outrage and rage. The numerous perspectives provided by the cast of characters show how it isn't a single, uniform experience. Some have parents arrested on suspicions before everyone else is removed; some declare their allegiance to the U.S.; some renounce it; some enlist in the army; some are imprisoned within their camps; some have the support of their families and some fight them. All have their identities questioned; all can't help but question their own identities. These become the most consequential years of their lives, ones that will shape them and their families for generations to come. It is an engrossing and moving story.

This is a powerful, essential, accomplished book.

sjpl_rebekah Jan 25, 2021

Dare I say it, but in my mind this is a nearly flawless work of historical fiction. It’s been a long time since a book has made me cry (ok, maybe not that long) and this one did me in. It is SO well written, with the many POVs skillfully woven together to create a comprehensive and heartbreaking depiction of life for Japanese-Americans following the bombing at Pearl Harbor in 1941. I don’t think the treatment of Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated during the years following this tragic event is talked about nearly enough. It is one of the most shameful periods in American history and the rippling effects have repercussions that follow us into the present. Chee’s ability to so poignantly capture the betrayal, heartache, courage, love, and resilience demonstrated by the youth of that era is masterful, and if this book does not receive a shower of awards and accolades it will be a darn shame. I am so impressed with the way she created fourteen distinct voices that captured so many different elements of the time period and included so many different settings, all while keeping the many characters tied together. A truly phenomenal piece of work in every respect.

I would also like to note that the audiobook version is very well cast. Kudos to all the performers for bringing this story to life!

Tigard_HollyCP Jan 03, 2021

What a way to end my year of reading, with this one, one of my top two favorites of 2020 (the other was The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead)! This is an absolute masterpiece. Follow the fictional story of 14 American teenagers incarcerated during WWII in temporary detention centers, also known as Japanese internment camps. In one chapter each, the characters tell their part of a chronological story between March 1942 and March 1945 about their incarceration or experience fighting the war. The author draws from her own family’s history. I cannot recommend this story enough.

KyCCL Nov 25, 2020

Ever wondered what it was like to be Japanese in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbour? Follow Twitchy, Shig, Yum-Yum and their friends as they deal with the racism, discrimination, and other challenges that come their way, and have to decide whether they are Japanese, American, or both.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at GL

To Top