Praise for A Thousand Steps Into Night: ★ "A dark fantasy with welcome moments of levity, this story will charm fans of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. A captivating read rich in atmosphere."—Kirkus, STARRED review Praise for We Are Not Free: ★ "A compelling and transformative story of a tragic period in American history....Each voice is powerful, evoking raw emotions of fear, anger, resentment, uncertainty, grief, pride, and love....An unforgettable must-read." —Kirkus, STARRED review ★ "Chee is a master storyteller…. Here, she uses her own San Francisco–based Japanese American family's history to inform a blazing and timely indictment of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Her passion and personal involvement combine with her storytelling talents to create a remarkable and deeply moving account of the incarceration…. [We Are Not Free] should become required curriculum reading on a shameful and relevant chapter in U.S. history." —Booklist, STARRED review ★ "The novel may be fiction, but it will be hard for readers not to fall deep into the harsh realities these teens face. The writing is engaging and emotionally charged, allowing the readers to connect with each character...Chee’s words are a lot to take in, but necessary and beautiful all the same." —School Library Journal, STARRED review "A brilliant and intimate portrayal of several San Francisco teenagers during the mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans in World War II. Chee's nuanced and unforgettable characters will serve to enlighten readers about this devastating and shameful piece of America's past. A beautiful, painful, and necessary work of historical fiction." —Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor winning author of The Night Diary “Traci Chee masterfully weaves together harrowing truths about the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during WWII, and features a cast of friends whose honesty, strength, and love for one another will break your heart. With characters who need to have their stories told, and a history that should never be forgotten, WE ARE NOT FREE is powerful, moving, and so incredibly necessary.” – Akemi Dawn Bowman, Morris Award Finalist and author of Starfish “These powerful interconnected stories of incarceration during WWII told by Nisei youth will wrap around your heart like barbed wire. With deft touches of humor, heart, pathos, and anger, We Are Not Free by the talented Traci Chee is the best Japanese American incarceration novel I’ve read. I loved this book that epitomized gaman and will be buying a copy for everyone in my family.” —author Debbi Michiko Florence “This novel is nothing short of a masterpiece. In We Are Not Free, Traci Chee gives us the most comprehensive novelization of the Japanese American internment that I've ever read, without sacrificing the intimate and achingly human individual experience. Traci Chee's characters don't step off the page so much as they shuffle, sashay, and swagger. With them, you will blaze with incandescent rage, crumble with internalized shame, and laugh with true, soul-deep joy. Each individual voice, each individual story is a gem; taken as a whole, they are an unforgettable wonder that you will want to return to again and again.” —Misa Sugiura, author of This Time Will Be Different and It's Not Like It's a Secret, winner of the 2018 APALA Award for YA Literature “A powerful and heartbreaking look into history. In a time when it's integral to remember the failings of our past so that we can ensure we preserve our humanity in the present, Chee brings us a relevant and poignant tale of a group of Japanese-American teens who were forced to feel unwelcome in a country they've always called home. We Are Not Free compels us to face the reality that when fear guides us, our humanity suffers. It's such a testament to Chee's storytelling that she's able to show us the horrors that happened to these Japanese-American teens and still include a thread of hope throughout. I dare you to try to read this book with dry eyes. A must-read book.” —Kat Cho, author of Wicked Fox "A powerful and starkly honest story of identity and home, fear and hope, We Are Not Free is like an emotional punch to the gut." —Lori M. Lee, author of Forest of Souls "Powerful and illuminating, and as hopeful as it is heartbreaking—one of the best YA books I’ve read in years." —Elsie Chapman, author of Caster “Traci Chee masterfully weaves together harrowing truths about the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during WWII, and features a cast of friends whose honesty, strength, and love for one another will break your heart. With characters who need to have their stories told, and a history that should never be forgotten, WE ARE NOT FREE is powerful, moving, and so incredibly necessary.” – Akemi Dawn Bowman, Morris Award Finalist and author of Starfish
Gr 8 Up—Otori Miuko is an unassuming, clumsy girl of the serving class whose life revolves around helping her father run their deteriorating inn until the day she is cursed by a demon when she stays out too long after dark. Suddenly banished from her village, Miuko has to find a way to reverse the curse and reveal the identity of the demon she now knows is hiding in the prince's skin. Awara is an oppressive place for the lower class, especially women, and although Miuko had always chafed against those boundaries, she misses them still when she has to strike out on her own. Through Miuko's travels, readers are introduced to the rich fantasy world of Awara, based on Japanese mythology; the many spirits, demons, and gods Miuko encounters help her fulfill her quest. Miuko's unlikely friends create a charming cast of characters to flesh out the worldbuilding. The true question then becomes whether she wants to relinquish the freedoms she's suddenly embraced, or if one demon girl can change the world? Chee once again creates a lush fantasy world that revolves around a girl discovering her own power. Miuko never takes the easy way out, even when it would solve all of her problems, because she knows she has to do things the right way in order to create real change. Just like Miuko, the story never takes the path that's expected. Footnotes throughout offer more detail on the various spirits Miuko encounters, including helpful pronunciation guides. VERDICT A definite purchase for all libraries.—Stacey Shapiro
A terrifying encounter leads a young woman down a path of discovery, adventure, and looming destruction: Is this a curse, and will it bring a change in perspective?
Set in a Japanese-inspired fantasy world with a pantheon of gods, spirits, and demons that are explained in detail in the plentiful footnotes, this novel follows protagonist Otori Miuko, who is a misfit in her small village. Part of the serving class, Miuko is ordinary in every way—except for being unusually clumsy, loud, and stubborn. A run-in with a demon changes everything (except her clumsiness). Cast out by her father and the priests, she searches for a cure for the violent and bloodthirsty urges taking over her body and mind. On her journey, she uncovers horrors and abuses perpetrated by both humans and demons and develops friendships in unlikely places. Midway through, the story turns in on itself with intricacy and complexity, expanding on the character development and worldbuilding as readers view a past scene from a different perspective. Empowered at times, powerless at others, Miuko comes across other women in dire situations, requiring her to question the cultural norms of what it means to be a female in an oppressive patriarchal society. Chee introduces a nonbinary gender designation, hei, through side characters and short historical references. A dark fantasy with welcome moments of levity, this story will charm fans of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away.
A captivating read rich in atmosphere. (Fantasy. 14-18)