Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Review: "Within These Lines" by Stephanie Morrill

Over the last month or so, I've been seeing so much buzz about Within These Lines. The book intrigued me when I first heard about it, but then when the glowing reviews (and gorgeous pictures) started hitting Instagram, I couldn't wait to read it!

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.

Within These Lines gives a heartbreaking look at a dark time in American history. I can't recall if I heard about the World War II Japanese internment camps in my high school history classes, but if I did, they were certainly not emphasized; the United States was always portrayed as being on the side of all that was right and good. Of course, the truth is much more nuanced than that. The American government was not innocent, and neither were many Americans, and it's appalling to think that people—many of them American citizens with supposedly the same rights as any other citizen—were treated in this way.

This novel tells the story of Evalina and Taichi, a young interracial couple. When Taichi's family is sent to Manzanar Relocation Center, a Japanese internment camp, Evalina begins her fight against injustice, and Taichi begins his fight to protect his family. The action switches between the two, and while I found it all interesting (and maddening, and heartbreaking), the chapters about Taichi's time in Manzanar were especially gripping.

Within These Lines is a YA novel, but adults should read it, as well. It's incredibly engaging and well written, and it has a realistic feel to it without being overly graphic or gory. And though it covers a time more than 75 years in the past, its message is incredibly timely. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

Buy the book: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble
Follow the review tour.

Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920's mystery The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Connect with Stephanie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. I agree, I feel like this is such a relevant read for YA but also for adults. I think internment camps are kind of glossed over but they are a really dark history for our country that shouldn't be forgotten. Thanks for being on this tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

    1. You're absolutely right, Sara! Thanks for having me :-)


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