Book Review by Aarene Storms: Paper Wishes

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Ten year old Manami doesn't understand much about world politics. She only knows that she loves to walk on the beach on Bainbridge Island with her grandfather and her little dog, collecting shells and listening to the peaceful waves on the shore.

But it's 1942, and Manami and her family are forced by the United States government to leave their homes and most of their possessions and move to an internment camp for Japanese Americans, far away from the familiar sights and sounds of Puget Sound.

Her grandfather is resigned to the imprisonment; her older brother rebels against it. But Mirami, surrounded by events that are simultaneously normal and not-normal, stops speaking.

Instead, she expresses her thoughts and wishes in drawings that she either shares with her friends and family, or turns loose on the winds of Manzanar.

This is a relatively gentle introduction to the historic issues surrounding the internment of Pacific Coast Japanese Americans during WWII. There are some allusions to violent incidents at the camp, but Manami is always a few steps away from these, and so the reader is insulated as well.

Still, her loneliness for her dog, her confusion at the treatment of her neighbors and family by the American government, and her longing for her old life shine through the brief story, which ends before the war does.

Recommended for readers ages 10 to adult.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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