By Karen Hesse
Published by McElderry Books
Copyright © 2003
The Aleutian Islands in Southwester Alaska can be a forbidding and dangerous place at times. But to the Aleuts it is home. In 1942 they were taken from their home, as the Japanese were invading the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. The U.S. Government forcibly moved them to Southwestern Alaska to supposedly keep them safe while the war raged.
Southwestern Alaska was very different from their home on the islands. The landscape was different, the weather was different, and the people were different. In their new home they lived in worse poverty and sickness than they had ever known in the Aleutians; the government provided worse for them than they did prisoners of war.
When the Aleut’s finally were allowed to go home they found that their home had been destroyed not just from the Japanese and the bombing, but also by American troops who were supposed to be protecting their home.
Karen Hesse has written a moving fictitious poetic narrative of these events. Hesse writes from the viewpoint of a young girl named Vera who is caught up in the tragedy as a member of an Aleut village. It takes a little effort to get used to understanding this story written in unrhymed verse, but this form really facilitates the emotions – the sorrow, despair, courage, and strength of Vera and her people. This is a wonderful work of multicultural Historical Fiction. Well worth the read for anyone 12 and up.