ARC Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Within These Lines

Title: Within These Lines
Author: Stephanie Morrill
Publisher: Blink
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

About The Author

Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. To learn more, see my interview with her.

Summary

Evalina Cassano lives happily with her family in San Francisco until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Taichi and his family are forced to move to the Manzanar internment camp.

Evalina feels she must help Taichi and speaks out more and more against the racism and Japanese internment at home and school.  When Japanese-Americans begin taking sides within the Manzanar camp, Taichi is caught in between and begins to doubt he and his family will stay safe and leave the camp alive. Evalina and Taichi must find a way to stand strong and make it back to each other.

Review

Evalina is an articulate, tenacious girl, much like Piper from the author’s last book. She is angry and confused at the injustice done to her friends and neighbors. She sees the people behind the politics, and is brave enough to speak about what she believes.

Taichi didn’t captivate me at first. For the first third or half of the book, he felt like a sort of bland character. However, later in the book, he really began to develop as a character. He cared about his family and about Evalina, and having his perspective made the book much more real and poignant.

I particularly appreciated the family relationships that were highlighted in this book. Taichi obviously cares very much about his family, and reading about his interactions with his sister was quite enjoyable. Evalina had a little bit more tension in her family relationships. She wasn’t sure if her Italian-American parents would approve of her relationship with Taichi, and tried to keep it a secret.

Stephanie Morrill did a wonderful job writing the point of view switches between Evalina and Taichi. Both had a unique voice and perspective, and tied together very well. I love reading books where the characters have different voices and unique backgrounds, but the overall tone and voice of the book is still regular.

The time period this book was set in, World War II, was a very turbulent and tense time. Within These Lines addresses difficult issues of injustice, racism, and internment camps in a sensitive yet honest way. 

Overall, this book had beautiful writing, well-developed characters, a wonderful ending, and deftly handles some difficult topics. I’m not going to give away spoilers, but I will say that towards the finish both Evalina and Taichi had a lot at stake, and the ending was satisfying but a little bit surprising. Within These Lines is written for young adult readers, but I think this book will also appeal to adult readers that enjoy historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of Within These Lines for review from Blink through Netgalley. This did not impact my review in any way and all opinions expressed are my own.

If You Like

I would recommend this book to fans of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, and Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read The Lost Girl of Astor Street? Are you planning on reading Within These Lines? What are your thoughts on WWII fiction?

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Author Interview with Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie Morrill Low Res

Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children. You can connect with Stephanie and learn more about her books at StephanieMorrill.comInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

 I’ve enjoyed Stephanie Morrill’s books since I discovered them a few years ago. She is one of the contributors to the Go Teen Writers site, which is devoted to helping young writers improve and meet their goals, and has helped me greatly in my own writing.

Her newest book, Within These Lines, is releasing in March. I received an ARC of it several weeks ago and will be posting a review on Monday.

I was delighted when she agreed to answer a few questions for a writing/reading/fun stuff interview. It’s great to have her here. Enjoy!

What inspired Within These Lines? How does the idea for a story come to you? 

I’m obsessed with podcasts, especially Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did a two-part episode on Executive Order 9066, which is the order Franklin D. Roosevelt signed that gave the US government permission to evacuate Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps.
I found these episodes fascinating, and because I’ve always written for teenagers the idea popped into my head, “What would’ve happened if there was a Caucasian teenage girl who was in love with a Japanese American teenage boy, and his family was taken away?” As I researched a little bit, I realized the story could be even more interesting if my Caucasian teenage girl was actually an Italian American teenage girl, since Italy was aligned with Germany and Japan, yet Japanese Americans were the only people group targeted as a whole with the incarceration.


What does your writing process look like? What’s the hardest part of writing a book for you? 


I’ve been writing stories all my life, but writing historical fiction is relatively new to me. Trying to find that balance of historical detail without crossing over into tedious is difficult, especially with a topic like the incarceration of the Japanese Americans where the history is so complex. I love the challenge, though!


How do you balance writing with blogging, family, and other life stuff?

 
I’ve learned a lot about setting boundaries and establishing priorities! My oldest is 11 now, but I received my first book contract when she was 6 months old, so my kids are used to thinking of me as a working mom. And while I wrote full time before I had kids, I wasn’t published until after so this is a balancing act I’ve been working on the whole time. I say no to a lot–play dates, lunch with friends, binge watching TV, volunteering at school–so that I can yes to what really matters to me: quality family time, writing fiction, and mentoring young writers on GoTeenWriters.com. 


One of your favorite books? Has reading influenced your writing?

 
Reading totally influences my writing! Stephen King says “If you don’t have time for reading, you don’t have time for writing,” and I 100% agree. A book I just read that earned its place as one of my all-time faves is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s such a charming novel, and its like a love letter to books and the reading life in general. Fantastic!


Which of all your characters is most like you? Do you write yourself into stories?   

I try very hard to not write myself into my stories as a character, though there are pieces of me in all of them. Or sometimes there are pieces of what I hope I could be like, as in Evalina’s passion in Within These Lines. Probably the character who is most like me is Ellie Sweet from my contemporary YA novels. She’s an aspiring teen writer, just like I was, so a ton of my insecurities got dumped into that poor girl!

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Stephanie Morrill! Add Within These Lines to your TBR and watch for my review.

Most Anticipated Releases of 2019

Happy belated new year! I hope you’re all having a wonderful 2019 so far. This year some very promising books are being released. I’m more excited for some of these than I have been about a new release in a long time! These are six books releasing in 2019 that I can’t wait to read.

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins releases April 2, 2019
Image result for forward me back to you

Mitali Perkins wrote one of my very favorite books, You Bring the Distant Near.  For that reason alone I would be excited for this book, but the premise is very interesting. Katina King, a teen jujitsu champion, and Robin Thornton, born in India, meet on a summer service trip to Kolkata and discover how to find justice, healing, and hope.

No Place Like Here by Christina June releases May 21, 2019
Image result for no place like here christina june

Christina June is the author of It Started With Goodbye and Everywhere You Want to Be. Her covers are gorgeous, and her stories are wonderful. This book is going to be about Ashlyn Zanotti’s journey to find courage and hope when her life is turned upside-down.

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie releases January 15, 2019
The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

Poe Blythe is the captain of Outpost’s last mining ship and has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who ruined her life. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is the story of how she learns to move past her anger and fear. I skipped the Matched series by the same author because I was wary of it for its popularity and I thought the covers were creepy. However, this book sounds really good, and quite honestly, the name of the protagonist intrigues me.

Romanov by Nadine Brandes releases May 7, 2019

Nadine Brandes, the author of Fawkes, has written a magical retelling of the life and plight of Anastasia Romanov.  I’m hoping this book is just as good, if not better, than Fawkes. Historical fantasy is an unusal and interesting genre, and Nadine Brandes seems to write it well.

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin releases January 22, 2019

I haven’t read anything by this author before, but this book sounds very promising. Lillia and her sister flee to Shanghai, a place that accepts Jews without visas, and she and her family fight to survive the war. I’m really excited to read this book, because I have never seen or read a book set during WWII anyplace other than the US, Europe, or Russia

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill releases March 15, 2019
Image result for within these lines

Stephanie Morrill contributes to the blog Go Teen Writers, which has helped me greatly in my writing journey and is a lot of fun to read. I really liked her previous book, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and this one sounds even better. Within These Lines is the story of how Evalina Cassano falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki during World War II, and how she fights against the concentration camps for Japanese Americans and tries to find a way to help Taichi.

Let’s Chat!

Have you heard about these books? What books are you looking forward to this year? Do you usually read books right away when they release or do you wait a while?