My Friend the Enemy

My Friend the Enemy

4.7 4
by J.B. Cheaney

View All Available Formats & Editions

Hating the Japanese was simple before she met Sogoji.

Pearl Harbor was bombed on Hazel Anderson’s birthday and she’s been on the lookout for enemies ever since. She scours the skies above Mount Hood with her binoculars, hoping to make some crucial observation, or uncover the hideout of enemy spies.

But what she discovers instead is a 15-year-old


Hating the Japanese was simple before she met Sogoji.

Pearl Harbor was bombed on Hazel Anderson’s birthday and she’s been on the lookout for enemies ever since. She scours the skies above Mount Hood with her binoculars, hoping to make some crucial observation, or uncover the hideout of enemy spies.

But what she discovers instead is a 15-year-old orphan, hiding out, trying to avoid being sent to an internment camp. Sogoji was born in America. He’s eager to help Hazel with the war effort. Is this lonely boy really the enemy?
In this thought-provoking story of patriotism, loyalty, and belonging, Hazel must decide what it means to be a true American, and a true friend.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A masterful novel about World War II. I could not put the book down. I wish I had written it."—Roland Smith, author of Zach's Lie and Cryptid Hunters

"This powerful work deftly explores how war affects a community, when the identity of friend, enemy and hero is sometimes difficult to discern."—Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature
Using her brother's binoculars, eleven-year-old Hazel Anderson has been keeping a lookout for enemy planes near her Hood River Valley, Oregon, home ever since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on her ninth birthday. Coming back from one of her scouting outings, she finds a small strip of paper with Japanese characters written on it flapping in the wind. She tries to translate the message, fearing the words are a message to the Japanese emperor. She makes out two words "mother" and "tree" but even those may not be right, so she delays taking the information to the police station. One day she hears someone chopping brush at her neighbor's house and comes face to face with what looks like a Japanese boy. Her neighbor, Mr. Lanski, explains that Sogoji is an American. Orphaned, he was hidden by the Lanskis when the other Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to internment camps. Hazel wrestles with keeping Sogoji's secret, not knowing for sure whether he is the enemy. The two develop a friendship that is tested when Hazel and her brother, Frank, find evidence of a balloon attack on US soil. When Sogoji is discovered by authorities and sent to an internment camp, Hazel decides what it means to stand up for your beliefs. This well-crafted novel tackles subjects as difficult today as they were during World War II—loyalty, patriotism, and the meaning of friendship. 2005, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House, Ages 10 to 14.
—Valerie O. Patterson
Ever since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on her ninth birthday, Hazel Anderson has been on guard against the enemy from her Oregon home. In the last three years, she has made other sacrifices as well-her father has gone to Portland Yard to build ships, her older brother is now in the Young America Corps, and her sister's boyfriend-Hazel's secret crush-has been sent to Guadalcanal. Before he left for battle, Jeb asked Hazel to keep an eye out for the enemy. When she discovers Sogoji hiding nearby to avoid the internment camps, she slowly makes a friend, and in doing so, discovers the true ugliness of racism. Hazel is loveable and brave, and her independent spunk is admirable. Her conflict between fervent patriotism and loyalty to Sogoji is believable and one with which preteens should be able to identify in twenty-first-century America. The portrayal of Sogoji is fairly accurate, although his broken dialogue is not consistent. The parallel story line of an honorably discharged corporal who has taken on the roll of schoolteacher gives depth to the wartime events. This novel brings to light an underserved portion of American history, and although not a riveting read, it serves to address some critical historical issues through the lives of several well-developed characters. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Knopf, 266p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Melissa Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-During World War II, 12-year-old Hazel Anderson is caught up in a fantasy world filled with comic-book caricatures of sneaky "Japs" defeated by heroic American civilians. Adored neighbor Jed Lanski, en route to the Pacific, has asked Hazel to check on his parents periodically. When she makes the startling discovery that they have hidden a 15-year-old orphaned Japanese-American boy, saving him from an internment camp, she changes her ideas about the enemy and her duties as an American. Hazel's developing friendship with Sogoji is embellished with several subplots, including her older sister's secret engagement to Jed and the new teacher's reason for downplaying his heroic war record. Although there are many novels and nonfiction works dealing with Japanese-American internment camps, there are none that deal specifically with avoiding internment. The premise is an intriguing one, but readers may find Hazel's transformation from a "Jap-hater" into someone who can sympathize with Sogoji's plight too sudden to be believable and may wish for a deeper exploration of the protagonist's evolving sensitivities.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
War is a complicated thing for 11-year-old Hazel Anderson. Everyone knew how Mr. Erickson's nephew Sam had a rough time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and now her friend Jed, who's been like a big brother to her, is missing in action, perhaps imprisoned or dead. Her new friend Sogoji has been sent to a Japanese internment camp, and her new teacher, the community's own war hero, has turned out to be a deserter on the lam. Hazel comes to realize so many things are beyond her control, but perhaps there's room in the world for someone willing to act kindly, to be a friend who can hope for Sogoji's return to a more welcoming community. Hazel stands up for her friend when many in her community do not, willing to make her name Mud in order to do what's right. This powerful work deftly explores how war affects a community, when the identity of friend, enemy and hero is sometimes difficult to discern. Fans of Cheaney's Elizabethan thrillers The Playmaker (2000) and The True Prince (2004) will find this equally compelling. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Doing Our Part

I didn't mean to do it. I just got carried away.
First I found the balloon in the bib pocket of my overalls and thought it would be fun to fill it with water from the faucet by the garage. Then I thought about finding something to throw the balloon at, and that's when my sister put the record on. Dance music blared out of our bedroom window, pulling me closer to the house as the Andrews Sisters sang,

Don't sit under the apple tree
With anyone else but me,
Anyone else but me,
Anyone else but me—No! No! No!

Sneaking around the corner of the house between the forsythia bushes, I became patrol leader H. N. Anderson. My men crept behind me so silently I couldn't even hear them until we all crouched together under the window, hugging our grenades and listening to high heels click on the wood floor. Nice trick, I thought—the enemy's using an all-American band as cover for sabotage. But it won't work. Steady, men . . . steady . . . NOW!
I leapt up and hurled my grenade through the open window. There wasn't any time to aim; all I hoped to hit was the floor. But the balloon struck the edge of the vanity mirror and exploded all over ribbons, lipstick, powder boxes, and Estelle. I stared at her for a second, seeing mainly a mouth as wide as a bathtub. Mission accomplished—now scram! I dashed toward the front porch as my sister's scream sounded—low at first but zooming up like an air-raid siren. Enemy plane! Take cover!
Straight ahead was the old henhouse. Follow me, men! The natives might give us shelter! I didn't see the attack squad until they were right on top of us—trapped! I dodged to the left, but a long arm reached out and yanked me up so fast my feet swung out from under me. That made me really mad. "Lemme go, you lousy Jap!"
"Hey, soldier. Hey. I'm on your side. Private J. J. Lanski, U.S. Marines." As my heart slowed down, I got an eyeful of starchy khakis and the gleam of an anchor-and-globe pin on a collar. He stuck out his hand. "Shake."
From the porch Estelle hollered, "Jed! Don't let her get away!"
I remembered the mission and made a bolt for the woods, but Jed caught me around the middle and tucked me under his arm like a bag of flour. Then he started for the house. "Looks like you've seen some action, soldier. You'll have to tell me about it at the picnic."
But Estelle was already telling him, fast and loud. "You'll never guess what she did! I was standing in front of the mirror when she hauls off and throws a water balloon through the window. Now look at me—she's ruined my dress, my hair—"
Which was baloney. The ruffle on one sleeve hung limp, but a little water couldn't wash the curl out of her hair or the sparkle from her eyes. "Oh, dry up," I muttered once my feet were on the ground.
"If only I could—"
"I think you look fine," Jed offered. "Better than fine."
They were starting to go all moony-eyed when Mom stalked out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. "What's going on?"
Estelle started off making it sound like she was Poland and I was Hitler, but Mom cut it short. "All right, all right. For heaven's sake, Hazel, you're almost twelve. Aren't you a little old for silly practical jokes?"
Questions like this don't usually expect an answer.
"Don't let her ride to the picnic with us," Estelle said quickly. "Put her to work washing dishes."
"If I need suggestions, I'll ask for them, dear."
"But Mother. It's our last chance to be together before
"Um . . . we won't exactly be alone, doll." Jed's fingers twitched on my shoulder, but I wasn't the doll he meant. "My mom decided to come."
We all stared at the Lanskis' Ford. Jed's mother got out of her house so seldom, it was as if a big mushroom had suddenly sprung up in the backseat—a mushroom that colored its lips victory red, fanned itself with a magazine, and waved at us with a pale puffy hand. Estelle sighed all the way down to her shoes but managed not to say anything.
Mom smoothed her apron over her skirt. "Hazel, I expect you'd better stay here and help me clean up the kitchen. You can ride to the picnic later with Aunt Ruth and me. Estelle, you go on and have a good time, but I want you home by dark. You hear, Jed?"
Jed nodded solemnly. Estelle, all smiles again, disappeared into the house—"I'll be right back!" Mom marched out to have a few neighborly words with Mrs. Lanski. I stayed right where I was, stiff as a board.
Jed turned me toward him, but I didn't even unfold my arms. "No hard feelings, okay?"
When I didn't answer, he leaned closer. "What's the matter, Hazelee?"
"You are." It busted out like a belch, but I didn't feel like saying excuse me. "You've been home since Wednesday and you've barely even talked to me."
"Oh. Well." He sat down on the porch steps and tugged at my arm, but I wouldn't budge. "It's not that I don't want to. There's nothing I'd like better than to take you for a ride in the pickup again. But I only have four days, and a guy has stuff to do before he ships out to the Pacific for who knows how long. Stuff that's more . . ."
"Important," I finished. Even my eyes felt hard.
"Maybe not more important, just more urgent. I had to help my dad get the bean crop in, didn't I?"
You didn't have to take Estelle out two nights in a row, I thought—but decided not to mention it. What was the use?
After a long pause, Jed tried again. "Remember the first conversation we had, a coupla years back?"
I stuck my hands in my pockets and nodded. I'd fallen out of a tree next to the gravel road and knocked myself out a little. He had come along in his pickup while I was still flat on my back, trying to figure out what made those black spots in front of my eyes. I was all right, but when he found out nobody was home at my house, he couldn't leave it at that. "We'd better make sure you're okay. How about you come along to our south field and help me pick melons?"
He probably didn't think I would be much help, but even my mother admits I'm a good worker once I get started. From that time on, Jed would often pause on the road outside our house and tap the horn to ask if I wanted to go along on a trip or a chore. Did I remember? Sure, I remembered.
"We talked about how this crazy war has shuffled everybody around," Jed was saying, "and how we all have to look out extra sharp for each other, right?"
"Uh-huh." He pitched in to help us too, so Mom didn't mind me returning the favor as long as I kept up with my own chores. We got to be friends, or that's what I thought. Jed taught me to hoot like an owl and whistle like a thrush and tie a slipknot that never failed. I told him jokes I'd heard on the radio. And we talked—about the war, and our favorite food, and baseball, and movies, and Jed's plan to enlist in the marines as soon as he could talk his dad into it. And about Estelle.
That's when Estelle was flirting with the entire football team at Hood River High. She knew Jed, of course. He'd been our neighbor forever, but he was a few years older and never looked like a movie star, though I loved the way his eyes grinned and his hair crinkled. Then, two days after he turned twenty-one, he marched down to the marine recruiter's office and enlisted. I guess he talked his dad into it. What's more, he started talking in a more serious way to Estelle, and all of a sudden she began to see the good things about him that I'd seen all along.
"That's what I need from you, Hazelee," he was saying now. "To look after things while I'm gone. Check on my mother every now and then, and ask my dad if you could help him around the farm, and . . . cheer up your sister if she gets blue. Could you do that?"

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

My Friend the Enemy 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just read this book and, it turned out to be soo much better then I had though when I picked it out, all the people in this story were so real, the way they thought and felt. I really enjoyed this and could hardly put it down! just what I like in a book! all readers young and old, boy or girl will enjoy this entreatingly great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although it looks like it is a book for teens, this book was very amazing. Tying together very well developed characters and emotional progress, My Friend the Enemy will become a favorite. The ending leaves many ends loose and feels like it was rushed to close, but this book will keep you reading. A young American girl during world war II finds an American citizen who looks like a Japanese, but didn't go to the camps. They son become friends and discover many things that apply to us in real life. Truly amazing!!