Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 447
My Nest of Silence
(Updated: February 04, 2023)
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
After Pearl Harbor, Mari and her family, along with other Japanese Americans, are rounded up and sent to internment camps. Mari's older brother Mak decides to enlist and fight. His family isn't too happy. Mari makes an oath to be silent while he's gone. She's also a bubbling artist who takes her sketch pad everywhere, documenting what she witnesses. Her brother's letters to Manzanar are optimistic while the 'truth' is shown in the graphic novel part of the novel.

What worked: Genius concept of blending prose and graphic novel format into one amazing story of Japanese Americans during WWII. The author doesn't flinch with his portrayals of what happened in the camps and on the battlefront. Mari sketches document the harshness of the camp. Her earlier recollections of how her family was rounded up and forced from their homes into Manzanar is a story that needs to be told. Japanese Americans like her older brother showed their loyalty to our country even when the United States showed them racism, hatred, and worse.

I loved the idea of contrasting what Mak sends home to the family with illustrations that show the ugliness of being on the front lines. I marveled at the courage and patriotism these young men had even when the country turned its back on them.

Thought-provoking at times along with true images of war. The camp scenes show the hardships and struggles. There was one thing I didn't know. At this time the US also rounded up orphan children and settled them into the camps. Their only 'crime'? Being of Japanese descent. These children were later adopted by other families. The scene where Mari finds joy in the camps in the orphanage is heartwrenching.

Mari's story is one that shows a young girl that hopes being silent will bring her older brother safely home. Readers won't know the final outcome as the author leaves the novel open to not only Mak but Mari and their family's fate.

There's a bibliography at the back that has books and websites for anyone interested in learning more about the Japanese American internment camps.

Brilliant concept merging prose with graphic novel illustrations to show a terrible time in our country's history. I highly recommend. A perfect addition to any school library.
Good Points
1. Heartfelt, engaging hybrid novel of a young Japanese American girl and her family during WWII.
2. Captivating graphic novel part that shows the young girl's GI brother on the battlefront
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