Review – This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda

Posted January 7, 2020 by Carole in 2020 New Release Challenge, Book Reviews / 13 Comments

This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Date Read: January 4, 2020
Length:  384 pages
Source: Publisher

A powerfully affecting story of World War II and the unlikeliest of pen pals—a Japanese American boy and a French Jewish girl—as they fight to maintain hope in a time of war

“I remember visiting Manzanar and standing in the windswept plains where over ten thousand internees were once imprisoned, their voices cut off. I remember how much I wanted to write a story that did right by them. Hopefully this book delivers.”—Andrew Fukuda

In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki, from Bainbridge Island, Washington, is disgusted when he’s forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France—a girl. He thought she was a boy. In spite of Alex’s reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic, along with the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force both young people to confront the darkest aspects of human nature. From the desolation of an internment camp on the plains of Manzanar to the horrors of Auschwitz and the devastation of European battlefields, the only thing they can hold onto are the memories of their letters. But nothing can dispel the light between them.

My Review

This was a wonderful book.  I happened on this book quite by chance but decided to give it a try and I am so glad that I did.  I have read quite a few books set during World War II over the years and usually find them heartbreaking and powerful.  This was a really unique story that really did grab me.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this powerful novel.

Alex and Charlie become pen pals when they are only 10 years old.  Charlie is a Jewish girl living in Paris with her family.  Alex is a Japanese American boy at a time when being of Japanese descent is more than just a little difficult.  We get to know Charlie and Alex through the letters that they write to each other and we get to see how things are changing in both of their worlds.

Charlie does play a part in this book but I really feel like this was Alex’s story.  We see Charlie through her letters but we get to see Alex during the challenges he faced.  I hate to admit that I don’t know as much as I should about internment camps that the United States put into place after the attack on Pearl Harbor but what I learned in this book made me sad and angry at the same time.  The descriptions of what Alex and his family went through were heartbreaking. 

Alex’s decision to join the military in the hopes of helping his father really demonstrated the strength of his character.  The descriptions of the battles that Alex’s unit faced were incredibly vivid.  I felt like I was right there with Alex, Mutt, Teddy, and the rest of their unit as they faced nearly impossible odds.  Alex played a very important part in his unit and was under a lot of pressure but he handled it like a pro.  He never stopped thinking about his family or Charlie even when things were at their worst.

I would highly recommend this book to others.  I had a hard time putting this book down once I got started with it.  It was an emotional read and beautiful at the same time.  I feel like I have been on quite the journey with Alex and Charlie in this powerful book.  I wouldn’t hesitate to read more of Andrew Fukuda’s work.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Tor Teen.

About the Author

Born in Manhattan and raised in Hong Kong, ANDREW FUKUDA earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University. Fukuda’s experience volunteering with the immigrant teen community in Manhattan’s Chinatown led to the writing of Crossing, his debut novel that was selected by ALA Booklist as an Editor’s Choice, Top Ten First Novel, and Top Ten Crime Novel. He currently resides on Long Island, New York, with his family.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

13 responses to “Review – This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda

  1. There's a whole exhibit on the internment camps at The Presidio in San Francisco and I've visited the actual site of one in Bishop California when I was a little kid. It is so awful what these poor people went through, but to be honest I think the immigration camps they have set at the borders of Mexico are pretty horrible and that's happening now. I shudder at how easily the government can take away liberties.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed their emotional journey. 🙂

  2. How have I not heard of this book before?! It sounds like such a wonderful read. I have been to the exhibit Rachel mentioned in her comment. It's such an emotional experience–such awful places.

  3. I have seen this elsewhere and it does sound like a unique story. Fantastic review! Thank you for sharing it.

    Anne – Books of My Heart