GAIJIN: AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR by Matt Faulkner. New York: Disney-Hyperion Books, 2014. Hb. $19.99 ISBN 978-1-4231-3735-1 NF Graphic Novel 741.5973 Juv.
Inspired by a distant relative who was sent to a Japanese internment camp in California during World War II, Faulkner uses his own illustrations and text to tell the story of Gaijin. Just thirteen years old and half Japanese, Gaijin finds himself summoned to relocate at an internment camp at the local race track. His Caucasian mother goes with him and tries to make the best out of living in a horse stall. While living in San Francisco, Gaijin was often the target of discrimination against Japanese (or half Japanese) citizens. After all, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and were enemies of the United States. At the internment camp, he was discriminated against because he was half white. The graphic novel format helps to convey Gaijin’s emotions and challenges during World War II, when he didn’t fit in anywhere. The knowledge of internment camps, right here on American soil, has just recently become the historical back story in newly published juvenile literature. If you’re curious about Japanese-American policies during World War II, Faulkner has provided more information for young readers at www.gaijinamericanprisonerofwar.com.
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI