Courageous Footsteps By Diane Dettmann

The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII is a period of history which I was not familiar with. I had read magazine articles but they only touched the surface. Ms. Dettmann’s book is a real eye opener! I had no clue what my fellow Japanese Americans faced and the atrocities they lived through! While this book is a historical fiction novel, I had to continually remind myself of just that. The author’s extraordinary writing skills made it read like a true story. The characters and their experiences seemed so real.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were rounded up and arrested like common criminals. They were forced in to camps against their will and remained there until the end of the war. The reader follows the painful journey the Sakomoto family through the eyes of their teenage daughter Yasu. They were law-abiding American citizens in 1941. They owned a small business in Glenville, California. Being a close knit family, they had a deep love for one another and their country. The quiet, peaceful life they had known changed quickly after the bombing. Persecution from fellow townspeople and even friends was immediate and harsh. Their lives became endangered in the very area and by the people that had been a part of their happiness.
My heart broke for young Yasu. Being a teenager is hard enough, but to face adolescence with such rejection and hostility was excruciating. Her sweet family continued to trust their country and government right up to their arrests. The gentle humble spirits of the Japanese were a great contrast as to how most Americans would have responded to this extreme discrimination.
I had no clue the camp conditions were so degrading and horrific. My first thought was about the concentration camps of the Jews. These camps were not as severe as Hitler’s, but they were shocking. There was filth, crowding, squalid living conditions, poor food, such as I would never have dreamed could take place in America. The author took me into the camp, to walk daily with the Sakamotos, living their experiences and allowing my heart of feel their emotions.
Though each era had different details, I saw a common thread running through history in the injustice toward other groups: the slavery of African Americans, the Chinese in the early 1900’s, the Jews, and the Japanese. People that had done no wrong but were victims of fear and misunderstanding.
I do disagree with this being labeled as a “young adult fiction”. This book is for teens and adults too! A must read for all! Watch for a sequel!
I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All the opinions I expressed were my own.

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