Facing the Mountain (Adapted for Young Readers): A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

Viking. Nov. 2023. 240p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593465660.
Gr 6 Up–An incisive account of how four young Japanese American men fought for their country despite the incarceration of their families during World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki, and Kats Miho volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, even though their families were unjustly imprisoned due to Executive Order 9066. Meanwhile, Gordon Hirabayashi, a conscientious observer, protested the racist policies of the government that would negate the rights of its own citizens. This adaptation of Brown’s adult book captures the diverse perspectives of the people of Japanese descent in the United States, Hawaii and the mainland, immigrants (Issei) and first-generation (Nisei). He points out how language was used to twist the truth and enforce widespread prejudice and suspicion (the use of the pejorative terms is reflective of the time period), and places an emphasis on how fighting for the soul of your country takes different forms—putting on a uniform (and even dying) out of love for the country that doesn’t love you back, or standing up for the ideals that it has preached but has never put into practice. Readers are also presented with the experiences of those who were forced to live in the concentration camps through heartbreaking stories. The resilience, patriotism, and righteous anger of those profiled will move young people to action.
VERDICT A propulsive narrative, impressive back matter, impeccable research, and primary source material make this an eye-opening story that belongs in every nonfiction collection for young readers.

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