Beneath The Wide Silk Sky

Beneath The Wide Silk Sky
Age Range
Release Date
October 18, 2022
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Sam Sakamoto doesn't have space in her life for dreams. With the recent death of her mother, Sam's focus is the farm, which her family will lose if they can't make one last payment. There's no time for her secret and unrealistic hope of becoming a photographer, no matter how skilled she's become. But Sam doesn't know that an even bigger threat looms on the horizon.

On December 7, 1941, Japanese airplanes attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Fury towards Japanese Americans ignites across the country. In Sam's community in Washington State, the attack gives those who already harbor prejudice an excuse to hate.

As Sam's family wrestles with intensifying discrimination and even violence, Sam forges a new and unexpected friendship with her neighbor Hiro Tanaka. When he offers Sam a way to resume her photography, she realizes she can document the bigotry around her -- if she’s willing to take the risk. When the United States announces that those of Japanese descent will be forced into "relocation camps," Sam knows she must act or lose her voice forever. She engages in one last battle to leave with her identity -- and her family -- intact.

Emily Inouye Huey movingly draws inspiration from her own family history to paint an intimate portrait of the lead-up to Japanese incarceration, racism on the World War II homefront, and the relationship between patriotism and protest in this stunningly lyrical debut.

Editor review

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Beneath The Wide Silk Sky
(Updated: August 31, 2022)
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What worked: Wow, just wow. Powerful, poignant portrayal of a Japanese teen right before the internment camps. Huey nails Sam's emotions with the backlash from her small Washington state community when Pearl Harbor is hit. Those who she thought were friends show their true character. But there are also small acts of kindness and courage from others.

Sam's desire to be a photographer is encouraged by Hiro, a neighbor. Their friendship grows while most in their town turn against the 'enemy'. In this case, anyone who is Japanese American.

Powerful and very moving. I was totally engrossed with Sam's story. The scenes of racism in her high school and also among leaders of her community are authentic and painful. Stories like these need to be shared. It reminds me of another equally powerful story by George Takei of his family and his time in Internment camps. Both show the division and fear that come from racism.

Captivating, powerful tale of a Japanese American family right after Pearl Harbor that shows the racism faced by those deemed the 'enemy'. Perfect for those who love Ruta Sepetys novels.
Good Points
1. Moving, poignant portrayal of a Japanese teen right before the internment camps
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