Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Fences Between us: The Diary of Piper Davis, Seattle Washington, 1941

The Fences Between us: The Diary of Piper Davis, Seattle Washington, 1941

Kirby Larson
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Scholastic Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0545224185

For thirteen years Piper has lived in Seattle with her pastor father, her brother Hank, and her sister Margie. Her life has been quite ordinary trips to the movies with friends and Sundays in the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church where her father preaches. Even though everyone is talking about the war in Europe and the Japanese invasion of China, Piper does not really pay too much attention to the news. After all, it does not affect her personally.

Then Hank joins the navy and Piper gets very upset. He assures Piper that there is nothing to worry about because President Roosevelt has promised that the U.S. will not participate in another European war. He will be a peacetime soldier and the worst thing that can happen to him is that he might get seasick, fall overboard, or get a tattoo.

At is turns out, Piper’s concerns for Hank are well founded. His ship, the U.S.S Arizona, in sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7th and for many days Piper and her friends and family don’t know if Hank went down with his ship or survived. Even when they know he is safe, Piper is always anxious because she know her brother is sailing into danger.

Worrying about Hank is only one of the things that is causing Piper and her family problems. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese people living in Japantown are singled out for persecution. Piper has been friends with many of the people in Japantown all her life, and it hurts to see what is being done to them. When it is announced that all the Japanese are going to have to go into special internment camps, Piper is appalled. How can President Roosevelt think that this an acceptable thing to do? What is going to happen to her Japanese friends?

This powerful story beautifully captures what it was like to be in Seattle during World War II. The author addresses the Japanese internment tragedy with sensitivity, basing her tale on the real story of a Seattle pastor who chose to follow his congregation when they were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho.

At the back of the book, the author provides her readers with further information about World War II and the Japanese internment.

This is one of the titles in the excellent Dear America series.