Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II / by Albert Marrin. 9.19.2017

Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 9780553509366

YA (Adult) Grade 7 and up Rating: *5

Mastery of the subject matter and thorough research make Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II a must-read for everyone.

Albert Marrin skillfully balances facts, first-hand narratives, news clips, photos, and illustrations to present a comprehensive and insightful account of the uprooting and internment of Americans of Japanese descent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His writing is clear and concise as he explores the foundations, historical events and racial attitudes of both America and Japan that culminated in war between the two nations. In addition, Marrin details the role that the news media played in stirring panic that encouraged animosity toward the Japanese-Americans.

The author also references similar experiences of other groups throughout history–for example, the forced removal of Native Americans, the Chinese Exclusion Laws of the 1880s, and the racism against African-Americans that led to the Civil Rights Movement. Lovers of history, moreover, will recall the English Only Movements that have surfaced at various times in the United States in order to protect and secure the country from foreigners, as well as the expulsion of Mexican-Americans in 1929-1936, who were blamed for taking American jobs.

Uprooted challenges readers to grapple with thought-provoking questions. How do we ensure the liberty of each citizen during wartime? Should race and religion exist as factors when determining a nation’s security? Should the media be held to a higher standard of accountability in its news coverage? These questions are all the more relevant today as the nation continues its war against terrorism and as the world becomes an increasingly multi-cultural environment.

Albert Marrin reminds the reader of the importance of studying history. It not only informs us about the past, but also helps us decide about the future. We can learn from our collective knowledge and experience.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ

This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration / by Linda Barrett Osborne. 9.11.2017

Abrams Books For Young Readers ISBN 9781419716607

YA Grades 7-10 Rating: 5

This Land Is Our Land will help readers gain a thorough understanding of the history of immigration in the United States. The information is presented chronologically beginning with the European colonization of the Americas and continuing through contemporary times. The book covers the origin of anti-immigrant behavior, the changing immigration policies of the United States government throughout history, and the reasons immigrants came to America. Also included are the accomplishments of immigrants who successfully integrated into American society, along with the challenges immigrants faced upon their arrival.

The deeply researched and thought-provoking subject matter is enhanced not only by the numerous illustrations that are accompanied by short, explanatory captions, but also by the excerpts from immigrants and a variety of other notable sources. There is an excellent amount of supporting material in the back matter, including an appendix that explains the difference between visas and green cards and a detailed timeline of immigration history. Under the Notes section are sources for all of the excerpts, and the Selected Bibliography lists books for students who are interested in learning more about the history of immigration. Credits for the sources of the illustrations are listed, and this is followed by an index.

Linda Barrett Osborne has written an insightful and eye-opening book that sheds light on why immigration is a controversial issue. Osborne addresses opposing viewpoints on the immigration policy in the United States and provides explanations for questions, such as these: Should immigrants be welcomed into our country? Should they be recognized as viable members of our society? Osborne also goes into detail as to why the United States has a diversified population, the political issues surrounding the diversity, and why there are conflicting attitudes in this country towards immigrants. The book is extremely well-organized and user-friendly for students. It is an excellent edition to a school library and a valuable resource for students to use in a research paper or project.

Dianne Woodman, CLJ

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided / by Diane Guerrero. 9.7.2017

Henry Holt ISBN 9781250134967

Adult (YA) Rating: 4

In the Country We Love is a compelling and heartfelt memoir of the plight of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Diane Guerrero has first-hand knowledge of the challenges immigrants face when they come to America to begin a new life and of the devastating effects of deportation. She was born in the United States to undocumented Columbian parents. With courage, humor, sincerity, and a moderate amount of profanity, she shares the story of her life from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood, and the ways in which her attitude toward life have been shaped by her experiences from her growing up years.

Guerrero’s parents not only worked for low wages in menial jobs to make ends meet, but they were also persistent in their quest to become American citizens, only to have crippling blows dealt to their efforts. Guerrero’s childhood was overshadowed by the constant worry that her parents could be taken away at any moment. Guerrero’s fears came true at the age of 14 when her parents were arrested and shortly thereafter deported back to Columbia. She moved in with family friends so she could continue attending Boston Arts Academy, a performing arts high school.

Fearful of rejection as a performing artist, Guerrero chose to follow an academic path in college. During this time, her life spun out of control. She dealt with major financial debt, emotional fallout from her parents’ deportation, depression, self-cutting, and excessive drinking. After seriously contemplating suicide, she started seeing a therapist, who Guerrero believes was sent by God to help her overcome her fears and doubts. Subsequently, she enrolled in acting classes, and through perseverance became a recurring actress in two popular television shows.

The black-and-white photographs and quotes from novelists, poets, singers, and other notable individuals add to the powerful message Guerrero recounts about the toxic stress and its long-lasting impact on children of undocumented parents. The book concludes with an overview of immigration policy issues, the importance of immigration reform, and a list of resources for Americans who are interested in advocating for change in the current immigration system.

Dianne Woodman, CLJ

March series / by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. 9.1.2017

March: Book One / by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. (March, 1)

Top Shelf ISBN 9781603093002

March: Book Two / by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. (March, 2)

Top Shelf ISBN 9781603094009

March: Book Three / by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. (March, 3)

Top Shelf ISBN 9781603094023

YA Grades 9-12 Rating: 4

Congressman John Lewis and his co-authors present a graphic novel series about a critical time in our nation’s history: the civil rights movement.

March is an autobiographical account of John Lewis’ life, starting with his life as a sharecropper’s son and continuing until the Civil Rights Amendment is signed. The story reflects the ups and downs of the civil rights movement and its major figures. Readers will encounter Rosa Parks, Presidents Johnson, Bobby Kennedy, and others.

Book One starts with his life as a youth in Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the start of the student rights movement, and their efforts to bring about change through nonviolent sit-ins and the opposition they faced.

Book Two continues with the Freedom Riders in the deep south. Their courage in the face of beatings, imprisonment, and more draws the attention of powerful allies, among them Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Twenty-three-year-old John Lewis is thrust into the national limelight as the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Book Three concludes as Lewis leads his fellow activists to face intimidation, violence, and death, as they bring civil injustice to the forefront. They use nonviolence to launch a series of campaigns to register millions of black voters in time for the presidential election.

The information presented is told in comic strip format, drawing the reader into the drama preceding and surrounding the 1963 March on Washington. Each volume is drawn in black and white, to emphasize the lines between white and black in the society at the time.

March received critical acclaim from several sources: the Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2017, ALA Notable Book, YALSA’s Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and several more. Young adults and adults alike should read this. Written as a memoir by one who was involved with the ivil rights movement for more than 50 years, it presents history in a digestible form and fills in the gaps found in textbooks.

Recommended for school and public libraries, for teen and adult readers.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

Die Young with Me: A Memoir / by Rob Rufus. 8.31.2017

Touchstone ISBN 9781501142628

Adult (YA) Rating: 5

Die Young with Me is a candid and heart-wrenching memoir of a teenager whose life is changed dramatically when he is diagnosed with cancer.

Rob Rufus lives with his family in Huntington, West Virginia. He feels like an outcast in the rural town and has no real goals in life. However, his attitude changes when he and his twin brother, Nat, are introduced to punk rock. The two 13-year-old boys are so enthralled with the music they acquire instruments and turn the basement of their house into a practice space, so they can form a punk rock band. It takes a few years for their dream to turn into a reality, but once they succeed the band starts playing local gigs with Rob as the drummer.

Just as the band is on the verge of getting a big break that could give them national recognition, Rob sees his world turned upside down. He is 17 and diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

The course of treatment requires both chemotherapy and surgery. Rob candidly shares not only the horrific physical side effects he experiences due to the treatments, but also the roller coaster ride of emotions he goes through. He vacillates between feeling angry, terrified, frustrated, panicked, downhearted, anxious, and lonely. At the same time, he steadfastly refuses to give up hope that he can beat the disease. He also describes how family members and friends deal with their own stress when someone close to them is being ravaged by a life-threatening disease.

The key element behind Rob’s surviving the nightmare of a debilitating disease is the inner strength he draws upon that comes from his music and the determination to get strong enough to play the drums again. The support of family and friends, prayer, and items Rob considers good luck that pertain to punk rock and Christianity are also important in helping him in his challenging fight to survive against overwhelming odds. The book includes cigarette and marijuana smoking, drinking, a bit of sexual innuendo, a trip to a strip club, and an excessive amount of profanity.

Dianne Woodman, CLJ

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth / by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Raul the Third. (Lowriders, 2) 8.29.2017

Chronicle Books ISBN 9781452123431

YA Grades 4-9 Rating: 4

It seemed like an ordinary day at the car garage until the earthquake hit and the cat disappeared. Searching frantically, Lupe Impala and her partners, El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria, follow a trail of paw prints that lead into a giant corn maze where the trickster Coyote informs them that their pet, Genie, is being held prisoner in the underworld. Can they trust Coyote?

Determined to rescue Genie at all costs, the fearless trio power up their earth/space vehicle and plunge full-speed into a volcano and down through the earth’s rocky layers until they reach the center. If they find their cat, returning home in their hi-tech car will be a cinch. They just have to wrestle and defeat the god of the underworld who holds Genie prisoner. No, not the Greek god Hades–the giant Aztec god, Mictlantecuhtli!

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, second in Cathy Camper’s Lowriders series, has a suspense-filled rescue plot that engages readers with humorous word plays and puns while teaching earth science. The Spanish vocabulary spread throughout the story (defined in a glossary) and the depiction of diverse protagonists give voice to other cultures and validate characters that Hispanic children can relate to. Raul the Third’s graphic illustrations of skulls, skeletons, bones, and gods introduce Aztec world views.

This is a highly entertaining read, with Lupe Impala like a Latina version of Miss Frizz (of the Magic School Bus series, by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen), teaching important concepts and creatively overcoming obstacles.

From a Christian perspective, Lowriders to the Center of the Earth could engender discussion of the God of the Bible and His care for all creation, in contrast to the capricious and antagonistic natures of other deities. The story invites readers to explore ideas of love and sacrifice, and challenges them to reflect on how much they would be willing to risk for someone they love.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ

The Returning / by Rachelle Dekker. (A Seer Novel, 3) 8.7.2017

Tyndale ISBN 9781496402295

YA Grades 8-12 Rating: 5

Carrington and Remko are back for the third and final chapter of the Seer series. It has been 20 years since baby Elise was taken, and her mother still hasn’t forgiven herself. While watching her second daughter mature, Carrington blames herself for letting Elise’s kidnapper get away. To cope, she writes letters to her firstborn. Carrington’s heart breaks again as her second child, Kennedy, is chosen as one of the Seven, a group prophesized to risk their lives to retake Authority City. How could the “loving” Father take two children from her?

Kennedy never knew Elise, but now she’s on a mission to find her older sister. If it wasn’t for a friend’s gift of dreams, Kennedy wouldn’t even believe her sister could be alive. Hopefully, the dream is also right that Elise is the key to overcoming brainwashing.

Elise believes she’s always lived in Authority City. Abandoned by her parents and immune to the brainwashing serum, Elise has lived in the care of the President and the Scientist. Dreams of darkness haunt her as the Scientist grows agitated by her presence, but Aaron is always there to show her the light within herself. Can the Seven find Elise before the darkness overtakes her?

Follow the next generation of Seers on their search for Elise and for a way to return the Father’s people home. Each of the Seven will have readers laughing at how closely he resembles his parents.

As with the first two books, elements of torture and evil conspiracy continue. This finale also plays heavily on the idea of demon possession. Because there is more darkness compared to the beginning books in the series, The Returning is also more overtly Christian.

Rachelle Dekker completes this series elegantly. Her writing style and characters have matured, forcing readers to feel a wide range of emotions. This idea, along with twists in the story, makes this novel the perfect conclusion to the Seer series.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJThe Choosing (Jul/Aug/Sep 2016); The Calling (Jul/Aug/Sep 2016).

Circle C Milestones series / by Susan K. Marlow. 8.4.2017

The Last Ride / by Susan K. Marlow. (Circle C Milestones, 3)

Kregel Publications ISBN 9780825443695

Courageous Love / by Susan K. Marlow. (Circle C Milestones, 4)

Kregel Publications ISBN 9780825443701

YA Rating: 4

Andrea “Andi” Carter is growing up. Now a young lady, she must trade in her overalls for skirts and a side saddle. Thrilled that she is almost done with school for good, she is hopeful that her brother, Chad, will ignore the fact that she’s a girl and increase her responsibilities on the ranch.

In The Last Ride, Andi is paired with her cousin Daniel to teach him how things work on the Circle C. Sounds easy enough, but Daniel is a city-slicker who’d rather gamble and play pranks than work on a ranch or listen to a girl. Alternately rude and charming, he creates one dangerous situation after another. When his antics bring personal heartbreak to Andi, she closes herself off from her family and friends.

In Courageous Love, Andi has settled in to her ranch duties and racing her horse, Shasta. Convinced she is the only one who can work with Shasta, she is not happy when Chad puts wrangler Riley Prescott in charge of training all the horses, including Shasta. When some of her brother’s prize calves die, and the barn catches fire, Andi and Riley must put aside their differences for the sake of the Circle C.

As with books 1 and 2 in the Circle C Milestones series, each story is written in the third person and includes snippets from Andi’s diary, allowing the reader to experience her thoughts and emotions firsthand. Author Susan K. Marlow effectively captures the feelings of a teenage girl who struggles with growing up during a time when women’s options were limited. The series’ characters are further developed in these two sequels, and information about raising cattle and horses in the 1880s is provided through dialogue and description. Messages of faith, forgiveness, and God’s provision are presented in a natural way through characters’ conversations and prayers.

The Last Ride and Courageous Love are well-researched, highly readable fictionalized accounts of the life of a teenager in the Old West. Adults may also enjoy the Circle C Milestones series.

Linda Matchett, CLJ

Earlier Series Titles Reviewed by CLJ: Thick as Thieves and Heartbreak Trail (Jan/Feb/Mar 2017).

Noble Servant / by Melanie Dickerson. 8.2.2017

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718026608

YA Grades 9-12 Rating: 5

Award-winning author Melanie Dickerson continues her medieval retelling of fairy tales, this time focusing on the Little Goose Girl fairy tale.

In Noble Servant, penniless Lady Magdalen of Mallin travels to meet her future bridegroom, the Duke of Wolfberg. Their marriage will bring her the monies to free her people from poverty. En route to Wolfberg, Magdalen’s maidservant forces her to switch places as part of a conspiracy. While her former maidservant receives the honor due to her, Magdalen is forced to take care of the geese on the Duke’s estate.

While her maidservant poses as Lady Magdalen, she is unaware that the Duke is also an imposter–he is the Duke’s cousin. After being attacked and left for dead, the real Duke has returned incognito, working as a shepherd on his own estate. The real Duke and Magdalen become friends as they uncover a plot against Wolfberg. Together they learn the meaning of sacrifice and true nobility as they adjust to their new stations in life and watch the imposters try to take what isn’t theirs.

As in her earlier books, the faith element is not preachy but clearly evident. Lessons are learned about sacrifice and true nobility. Dickerson’s tales feature wholesome relationships while still building a strong attraction between the main characters, making this a good choice for teen readers. Dickerson is a masterful storyteller with a carefully crafted plot, richly-drawn characters, and detailed setting. The reader is easily pulled into the story. Does everything end happily ever after? Read it and see!

Recommended for young adults and adults who are young at heart.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Life After / by Katie Ganshert. 8.1.2017

Water Brook Press ISBN 9781601429025

Adult (YA) Rating: 5

Katie Ganshert’s novel Life After provides a narrative of brokenness and healing in the context of suffering. Paul Elliott and Autumn Manning, the main characters of the story, must figure out how to continue living after a train bombing turns their lives upside down. Paul loses his wife in the explosion and is left to navigate single father-hood. Autumn, the sole survivor, experiences severe trauma from the explosion itself, as well as emotional turmoil and guilt.

This narrative speaks to the nature of God in suffering. Through the events that bring Paul and Autumn together and the details of each character’s experiences with the incident, Ganshert suggests to the reader that God is still good, though circumstances do not always point to that conclusion. As family members of the victims share their experiences with Autumn, she comes to learn that though God does not promise to answer why some things happen, he does promise to be with His people in every circumstance.

As the story progresses, Paul and Autumn slowly recognize the truth of God’s goodness, allowing them to piece their lives back together. Ganshert uses the discovery of truth as a theme throughout the story. Characters often lean on or learn biblical truths. In addition, Autumn and Paul both learn how important truth is in their own lives. For Autumn, remembering or discovering the truth of past events shapes her view of the present and her ability to move on in her life. Paul, on the other hand, learns that much freedom can be found in even difficult truths.

This book is recommended for older teens and adults. Life After addresses the heavy subjects of death and adultery, though no graphic details are involved. Once again Ganshert has cleverly written an original story with unexpected events and results–a story that touches on raw human emotion and experiences and the arduous process of redemption that God works in the lives of His people.

Elisabeth A. Orr, CLJ