They called us enemy / written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott ; art by Harmony Becker.
Booklist Reviews 2019 July #1
*Starred Review* Takei has spoken publicly about his childhood experiences in internment camps during WWII, and this graphic memoir tells that story again with a compelling blend of nostalgia and outrage. He was very young when he and his family were forced out of their California home and sent to Camp Rohwer in Arkansas, so some of his memories of that time are touched with gentle affection, though that fondness is short-lived. As he grows older and they're relocated to a camp with harsher conditions, it seems less like an adventure and more like the atrocity it truly is. Takei, together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, interweaves scenes of his adult realizations and reflections, as well as key speeches and historical events of the period, among the accounts of his childhood, which is very effective at providing context for those memories. Becker's spare, fine-lined, manga-inspired artwork focuses intently on faces and body language, keeping the story centered in the realm of the personal. Ultimately, though Takei is grateful for the official apologies he and other Japanese Americans received, he's careful to note how similar attitudes today mean that other immigrant communities in America are facing discrimination and internment. This approachable, well-wrought graphic memoir is important reading, particularly in today's political climate. Pair with John Lewis' acclaimed March series for a thought-provoking, critical look at the history of racism in American policies and culture. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2019 #5
From the publisher of the March trilogy (March, rev. 1/14, and sequels), co-written by civil rights leader and U.S. Congress member John Lewis, comes another exemplary comic-style memoir by and about a notable American. Takei—an author and activist, but most famously an actor on the original Star Trek television show—crafts his own childhood memoir about his years spent in America's Japanese internment camps of World War II. As a five-year-old, he is relocated with his parents and younger brother and sister from their home in Los Angeles to the easternmost camp in Rohwer, Arkansas. Then later, when his parents answer negatively to a pair of survey questions about military service and swearing allegiance, they are labeled no-nos and sent back to California to Tule Lake, the "most notorious, the most cruel, and by far the largest of the ten camps." Through all the unjust, degrading treatment they suffer, young George and his family maintain their resiliency, dignity, and humanity. And the story's denouement clearly demonstrates that this adversity profoundly shaped his future. Takei seamlessly blends his naive, limited childhood perspective with the wisdom and reflection of adulthood, with scenes from a 2014 TED talk by the author in Kyoto, Japan, and his 2017 speech at the FDR Museum and Presidential Library interspersed throughout. Becker's emotive black-and-white panel illustrations are effective in their subtle nuances, with occasional nods to manga and comic pop art. jonathan hunt September/October p.119 Copyright 2019 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2019 July #2
Takei, best known for his role on