Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

by Stephanie Morrill
YA Historical Romance
352 page

From Stephanie Morrill, author of The Lost Girl of Astor Street, comes Within These Lines, the love story of a girl and boy torn apart by racism during World War II.
Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.
Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.
With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

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Written with depth and heart, this is a lovely historical romance which takes a glimpse at one of the uglier times in American history.

Evalina likes nothing more than to ride to the market to select fruits and vegetables, and take the orders coming in for her parents' restaurant, but it has more to do with the delivery helper, Taichi, than with the produce. She keeps her heart secret, especially since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor months before, and immigrants and American Japanese are beginning to be taken into custody or made to evacuate their homes. Her concern for Taichi and his family soon proves to be well placed as his family leaves their farm to live with an aunt. They are being watched and scrutinized by neighbors, the government and everyone else. Still, Evalina can't deny what her heart is telling her and is determined to find a way for them both to make it through.

The setting engulfs right away into the historical period, allowing the streets, houses and people to come to life as if the reader is stepping into their world. It was easy to sympathize and like Evalina from the very first moment. She's kind, caring, doesn't have an over-bearing personality, and yet, stands for what she knows to be right. It's a fine line for her to walk, and she attempts it with heart-filled grace.

Depth is key in these pages, especially in connection with the characters. It's not a fast moving novel and lets the feelings flow, but never grows boring either. It's fascinating to watch the relationship develop and meet the troubles as best as it can. Some more meaningful scenes seemed to skim by too fast, but in general, the plot develops smooth and draws in. It's hard not to cheer for both characters and feel dismayed at the events which unfolded during that time period. Fans of depth, emotion, romance and history will enjoy every page.

 TLC Book Tours


Sandra said...

This sounds like a very moving read that's set in a very difficult time.
Wishing you the best with Music Boxes.

Sara Strand said...

I used to help with Battle of the Books at my kids' school and I can't help but think this would be such a strong contender for that. I'm really interested in reading this one for myself. Thanks for being on this tour!

Sara @ TLC Book Tours