I’m so excited to bring you my stop on the tour for Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill! I absolutely loved this book and I’m so happy that I got this chance to be a part of a tour for such an amazing book. Today, I’m bringing you a review, and Stephanie Morrill was kind enough to answer some questions for us! I hope you enjoy my tour stop and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
Title: Within These Lines
Author: Stephanie Morrill
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Book Form: ARC
Page Count: 352
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Romance
“Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” 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 make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, 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 values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.” – Goodreads
Within These Lines is an excellent YA historical fiction novel by Stephanie Morrill. It deals heavily with themes of racism, and is really heartbreaking. The social injustices seen in this book are hard to read about, but it’s an important book that I feel everyone should give a try.
This book deals with the American government placing Japanese citizens in internment camps post-Pearl Harbor. I had never even heard of this event in our history, so this book was really eye opening to me. It’s important we remember these events from history so as not to repeat our past mistakes. I can’t say enough how important I think this book is – and it’s an amazing read, too.
I was obsessed with this book. I genuinely did not ever want to put it down. The first night I started it, I stayed up until 6 am reading and had to force myself to put it down because I just did not want to stop reading! This book pulled me in right away and I was SO invested. I wanted the best for these characters, and I had to keep reading to see what would happen to them.
The book also talks about whether or not it’s okay to criticize our government, and whether criticizing our government means we’re anti-American. This was a fascinating topic to me, and I fully supported our main character’s perspective. At one point, she asks if she can feel both grateful for the freedom of her country, as well as criticize the errors in judgement she sees from the government – and isn’t that what makes our country great? That was one of the most powerful lines in the book in my opinion, my absolute favorite note I took on the whole book.
I was totally satisfied with how this book turned out. Where the plot took us, and how the book ended – it was all so perfect. I honestly can’t rave about this book enough. I’m totally obsessed with it. This is going to be another one of those books I push on people endlessly – so you should definitely go read it!
My Rating: ★★★★★
Interview with Stephanie Morrill!
What inspired your love for historical fiction?
The first historical fiction I fell in love with was The American Girl books when I was a kid. Even when I wrote contemporary YA, historical fiction was a genre that I read a lot because I enjoyed it so much. I didn’t think I would ever write it because there was so much research involved, but when I had the idea for The Lost Girl of Astor Street, I was too excited to not try!
‘Within These Lines’ deals with some very serious subjects, such as racism. What inspired you to write this book?
I’m obsessed with podcasts, especially Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did a two-part episode on Executive Order 9066, which is the order Franklin D. Roosevelt signed that gave the US government permission to evacuate Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps.
I found these episodes fascinating, and because I’ve always written for teenagers the idea popped into my head, “What would’ve happened if there was a Caucasian teenage girl who was in love with a Japanese American teenage boy, and his family was taken away?” As I researched a little bit, I realized the story could be even more interesting if my Caucasian teenage girl was actually an Italian American teenage girl, since Italy was aligned with Germany and Japan, yet Japanese Americans were the only people group targeted as a whole with the incarceration.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve known ever since first grade when our class had designated writing time. We could write whatever we wanted. When we were done, a parent typed it up for us, printed out a spiral-bound copy, and then we got to read our story to the class. I loved every part of it!
What authors do you look up to?
So many! The one who comes to mind right now is Jenny B. Jones, who writes fantastic contemporary YA and romantic comedies. Not only is she a talented writer, but she’s business savvy and has always taken time to answer questions I have about author life or the publishing industry.
What are some of your hobbies and favorite things other than writing?
I have three kids ages 11, 8, and 3, so I don’t have much time for life outside of writing and momming! I love reading, of course, and cooking. Especially if I get to try a new recipe. I’m kinda dorky about organization too. I honestly love getting to do things like go to The Container Store or reorganize the hall closet. Traveling with my family is another favorite of mine. We nearly always have a trip we’re planning, even if it’s months or years away.