Saturday, December 14, 2019

They Called Us Enemy

Takei, George. Eisinger, Justin (co-writer), Scott, Steven Scott (co-writer), Becker, Harmony (Artist). They Called Us Enemy
16th 2019 by Top Shelf Productions
Public library copy

This graphic novel follows Mr. Takei's recollections of his family's time in internment camps during WWII. Interspersed with panels of his TED talk, television interviews, and other appearances where he talked about his experiences are panels showing how he felt about what happened to his family. There is background history about his parents as well as the treatment of Japanese-Americans as well. Seeing the internment process from the point of view of a young child is very valuable, and it helps that there is some explanation from an older view point to accompany this. The black and white illustrations are clear and easy to follow, and show clearly the conditions at the various camps. There is also some discussion about topics tangential to his experience-- Japanese-American soldiers, the bombing of cities in Japan, and the aftermath of the war, with compensation for Japanese-Americans and also the current state of politics.
Strengths: This is a fascinating (but terrible) period of history, and there are not many more first person accounts of this to be written. I especially appreciated how Takei states his recollections but processes them through a later, adult lens. I would love to see the television series about the internment in which he stars, Infamy.
Weaknesses: Going back and forth from interviews to general history to the experience in the camps might make this hard to follow for younger readers, but the book is definitely worth having in a middle school library.
What I really think: Purchasing, and now sort of want to read all of Takei's memoirs!

Ms. Yingling

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