Piper Davis lives with her minister father and collegiate sister in Seattle, Washington. Her older brother has recently joined the military, but he's at Pearl Harbor, which in 1941 should be a relatively safe place. Piper's living the average life of a 1940s girl - attending high school, going to the movies with friends, coming to church every Sunday with her father. The only difference between her and most other American girls is that she lives in a Japanese neighborhood, because her father is the minister at a Baptist Japanese church. But the Japanese are just like everyone else, at least until the attack at Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, Piper is overwhelmed with worry for her brother and debates over whether the Japanese-Americans are friends, as they have always been to her family, or America's biggest homeland enemy. When her neighborhood is forced to move to an internment camp, is it really to protect the U.S. or is it just prejudice? And what will happen when Piper's father decides to follow his congregants to the camps, taking Piper with him?
I wasn't sure what to expect from Scholastic's first addition to the Dear America series in years, but Larson didn't let me down. Coming back to my favorite elementary school series as a high schooler, I still found The Fences Between Us to be an interesting and informative read. Larson managed to smoothly incorporate great historical details into the story, and she offered a unique perspective on WWII. I've known about the Caucasian ministers who followed Japanese-American congregations into internment camps (my great-great uncle, formerly a missionary to Japan, was one of them), but this is the first time I've heard of a book that focuses on their experiences. And it's written for kids, which makes it even better! As Larson is able to accurately write about this interesting part of American history while keeping the story engaging, The Fences Between Us is a great, educational read, appropriate for all ages.
My copy of The Fences Between Us was received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. I also received a copy through GoodReads' First Look program, which I will be giving away as part of the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop on March 17-20. The Fences Between Us was published in December 2010.