Post #43: The Moved-Outers

The Moved-Outers by Florence Crannell Means

Post number forty-three is for The Moved-Outers by Florence Crannell Means. This was another required reading assignment for History of Children's Literature, but unlike Keystone Kids, which I hated, I really loved this book.

Spoilers follow.









This book follows a Japanese-American family – the Oharas – from the bombing of Pearl Harbor through their trips to various internment camps. After Pearl Harbor is bombed, the US pretty much lost their minds, and considered all people of Japanese descent to be potential enemies of the state. As such, those in "important military zones" – like the coast of California, which is where the Oharas live – had to be moved to internment camps. Mr. Ohara is actually taken away by the FBI and kept in a sort of prison, where he is unrelentingly questioned about his loyalty – or lack their of – to the US. His wife and two children, Kim (a boy) and Sue (the girl) have to move to a sort of holding camp for a while, before being moved to their "permanent" internment camp in Colorado. The story basically follows them as they adjust. Kim is very patriotic, and fluctuates widely during the book between being completely on America's side, saying that democracy is worth the trouble, to being completely against the US and railing against the injustice. Sue takes it more in stride, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that her crush, Jiro, and his family are also moved to first he holding camp and later the internment camp. The Oharas also have another daughter, Amy, who is in college on the east coast (at Wellesley) and a son, Tad, who is a member of the Army. Mr. Ohara finally joins his family in Denver, Tad is killed in action in Europe, and Sue finally gets relocation permission to attend college in Denver and get out of the camp. What I liked most about this book, though, is that things aren't tied up neatly in a bow. This book was published in 1945, prior to the end of the war, so there's no easy, happy ending for the Oharas. The parents are still in the camp, Kim (and Jiro) are attempting to get volunteer jobs and permission to relocate, but the biggest thing is that there's no end in sight to the internment of the Japanese-Americans. And there shouldn't have been; it would have been crude and unrealistic to make up that happy ending that most readers want with books.

What I really loved about this book was the respect with which the Oharas and the other Japanese-American families were treated by the author. I liked the look at life inside the camps. I liked the fluctuating beliefs of Kim, but I also liked Sue's calm acceptance. And the building romance between Sue and Jiro was also very well done. Most of all I just liked this book, and I am very glad that I got to read it.

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