Dear Canada: Torn Apart by Susan Aihoshi
My Recommendation: Ages 8-12
“They actually believed he has something to do with the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. That is so crazy! Papa was born in Japan but he’s Canadian. We all consider ourselves one hundred percent Canadian, except perhaps Geechan, and even he’s lived in Canada over twenty-five years!”
Part of the “Dear Canada” series this book gives the viewpoint of one Japanese Canadian girl during a tragic time in Canadian history via her diary entries. Written for children it does present a singular window into how Japanese Canadians were treated by the government of BC and Canada before and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For children aged 8-12 it is definitely worth reading with the proviso that it is not a book of exploration into the treatment, legalities, cause, misconceptions, prejudices of the time. It is written as one child’s fictional experiences during a turbulent time. It is well researched and provides insight into life before and during internment of this Japanese Canadian child, her family, friends and other Japanese Canadians.
The one area of the book I am disappointed in is the epilogue. Instead of using the opportunity to at least ponder why and how this abuse of Japanese Canadians came about, the epilogue rightly presents facts damning the treatment of the Japanese Canadians, but leaves the reader none the wiser as to how it was permitted to happen in the first place. The author muddies the water somewhat by raising the suggestion that Canada broke the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war in it’s policy towards the Japanese Canadians when she must have been aware that the Geneva Convention was not applicable.
That being said I would encourage young people to read this book to see the destruction that fear and ignorance can bring and to know that yes, this kind of abuse can and did occur in Canada, and must not be allowed to ever happen again.