Book Review: "Gaijin: American Prisoner of War"

I think that books are a great way to learn about different cultures, so I'd like to recommend a great historical fiction book that really addresses the struggles of being mixed-race in the World War II era.

Gaigin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner is a graphic novel, based on true events, about a boy with a Japanese father and a white mother during World War II. When Japanese Americans start getting evacuated, he is sent to the internment camps. And since he's still a kid and his father is overseas, his white mother volunteers to come with him. The story goes through his many struggles of not fitting in with the white people, but also being constantly bullied and made fun of by the Japanese American people in the camps.

Before I read this book, I had never seen a story like this one before. It was especially meaningful for me to read as a kid because I am also half Japanese American and my grandfather was sent to the internment camps. Aside from the mixed-race experince in the internment camps, I have barely even learned about the Japanese American internment camps in school. I had a five minute lesson on it in U.S. history class and that's pretty much it. I'm actually surprised by the amount of people, both kids and adults, that I have met who don't know what the internment was. So, I'm always excited to see these stories told through good books.

Before reading this book I'd never even thought about what would happen when a mixed-race person was sent to the camps. It was even more difficult back then because mixed relationships were very frowned upon, and Japanese Americans were viewed as enemies by the rest of American society. So mixed Japanese people were part of two very conflicting sides.

It was so interesting to finally see a story like this represented and it made me think even more about the deeper problems in that period of history and how far we still need to go.