cover image The War Outside

The War Outside

Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-31669-9

In 1944, 17-year-old Japanese-American Haruko, from Colorado, and German-American Margot, from Iowa, are imprisoned with their families in a Department of Justice–run internment camp for “enemy aliens” suspected by the U.S. government of being spies. (The camp differs from WWII War Relocation Authority–run camps to which West Coast Japanese residents were relocated en masse, an author’s note explains.) Although the two groups in the Texas camp rarely mix, the young women are immediately drawn to each other. Both are experiencing family problems: Haruko worries about her brother, who is serving in the U.S. Army’s Japanese division, and wonders what her father had to do with her family’s relocation; Margot’s father finds himself courted by Nazi idealists as their situation worsens, and her pregnant mother fears yet another miscarriage. Camp life, with its daily indignities and occasional tragedies, grows tense, and the two girls find their friendship intensifying. Hesse (The Girl in the Blue Coat) draws Margot and Haruko realistically and sympathetically, bolstered by research into WWII internment camps, in a moving book that successfully describes an unjust aspect of U.S. history. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)