Audio Book Review: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, Narrated by Andrew Kanies And Morgan Fairbanks

Book: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, Narrated by Andrew Kanies & Morgan Fairbanks

Published March 2019 by Blink|Run Time: 9 hours, 37 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

I liked Within These Lines!  I didn’t love it but I did like it.

For me, Taichi’s story was so much more interesting than Evalina’s.  I really felt for Taichi, and everyone else who had to go to the internment camps.  It wasn’t until listening to this book that I realized how little I know about the internment camps.  I’ve heard of them, but all I knew was that they came about after Pearl Harbor.  I didn’t know anything else, and I was horrified by what Taichi went through at Manazanar.

No one should have to go through that, and the way people talked about Japanese-Americans was horrible.  But I was reminded of today, and how people are still treated because of where they come from.  It’s just hard to believe that it happened only 70 or so years ago.  It feels like it was a long time ago, and yet, it also feels so recent.

I was glad Evalina was so outspoken about what was going on.  I don’t think she realized or knew how bad it really was, but I was glad she spoke up about it.  It would have been really easy for her to not say anything, and just let it be.  She definitely did not let it be, and I thought it was really cool that she wanted to be a lawyer.  In the epilogue, we see she’s a civil rights lawyer, and that seems to fit her very well.  I wasn’t as interested in her story as Taichi’s, but I thought their stories together were important.  As a whole, the story was great because you see how it affected people, but on an individual level, Taichi’s story got my attention a lot more than Evalina’s.

The epilogue really got to me, and I was definitely crying because of how it still affected Taichi.  Even though the epilogue was years later, I was heartbroken for Taichi.  I don’t think it will ever be over for him, but I did think his story was really well done.  I hope he’s able to find peace after everything that happened.

I did like the narrators, Andrew Kanies and Morgan Fairbanks, though I did like Kanies a little bit more.  They both brought the characters to life, but Kanies really stood out, and really made Taichi someone worth caring about.  It’s not that I didn’t care about Evalina, because I did.  Just not as much as I cared about Taichi.  Still, Fairbanks did a great job at narrating Evalina’s part of the story.

3 stars.  I liked Within These Lines, and thought Taichi’s story was one worth reading.  His story really made this book worth reading.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

masters-of-the-air-coverBook: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

Published October 2006 by Simon & Schuster|671 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/History/World War 2/Military History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes readers on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America — white America, anyway. (African-Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: the British flew under the cover of night while American bombers attacked by day, a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Masters of the Air is a story, as well, of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world’s first and only bomber war.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I really love history, and thought Masters Of The Air looked really interesting.  It’s a book I’ve been reading off and on for a while, but I had a hard time getting through it.

I only got about 100 pages in before deciding that this book isn’t for me.  It’s not that it’s uninteresting, because I did think it was a pretty informative book.  Before I picked this book up, I never thought about the Air Force not being its own entity.  For me, it’s always been separate branch of the U.S. military.  But it seems like there were different incarnations under the Army- at least from what I could tell.  There’s this guy, William Mitchell, and he fought hard for an independent Air Force.

Another interesting thing was that a lot of the pilots experienced some form of oxygen deprivation- very few died from it, but something 50 to 60% experienced it.  A lot of it was because of poor planning- there was such a focus on getting the planes (and men) into the air that they didn’t think about little things.  There was a bigger focus on bombing strategy and not a lot on preparing the crews to survive in the conditions necessary to actually executing that strategy.

So why didn’t I finish it?  I had a really hard time getting through it.  It’s very detailed, and just from the 100 pages or so I read, it was clear to me that Miller put a lot of research and time into this book.  Even randomly picking up the book and reading a chapter didn’t help- I felt like I was struggling to get through it.  Since it also focuses more on military history, it’s more technical than what I’m used to reading, and that was a contributing factor in my inability to get through it.   It’s not for lack of trying, and as much as I wanted to get through it, I knew it was time to put it down and walk away.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

DNF.  I don’t feel like it’s fair to give a star rating for something I didn’t get very far into before deciding to not finish it.