Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 Mirror Lake Internment Camp, California 1942 by Barry Denenberg (A Dear America Book)

Synopsis: In 1942, twelve-year old Ben Uchida, his mother, and sister are sent to live a Mirror Lake (Manzanar) Internment Camp. Ben’s friend, Robbie, insists he keep a diary. In it, Ben records his life at Manzanar, both the mundane and the profound. Based on actual people, this journal documents an important moment in American history.

Review: Told in simple, clear prose, this journal follows Ben from the morning of December 7, 1941 through his journey to Mirror Lake (Manzanar) internment camp. Ben is honest and forthright, greeting the injustice with humor and a stalwart resilience. He expresses anger through levity, and only a few moments does his fear and anger appear in his words. Ben uses Baseball to cope – losing himself in the game. Without realizing it, he makes keen observations of the people around him. He often remarks on event that he doesn’t know the significance of, but that the reader will.
Other reviewers have remarked on the lack of historical accuracy in the slang and language. This is partially correct. At the same time, we don’t tend to use slang in diaries (not that I’ve seen) and the event described are accurate. The prose is simple and clear, and suitable for elementary-age readers. It is an excellent starting place for discussions about civil liberty, the injustice of racism, and what it means to be a citizen. Worth reading. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-590-48531-8
Year Published: 1999
Date Finished: 2-14-2017
Pages: 156

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