Review of Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II
by Andrea Warren
Intermediate, Middle School    Ferguson/Holiday    214 pp.
3/19    978-0-8234-4151-8    $22.99

Continuing her theme of children in peril because of governmental policies outside of their control, Warren (Surviving Hitler, rev. 3/01; Escape from Saigon, rev. 9/04) gives readers both a micro and a macro view of Japanese American internment during the Second World War. Norman Mineta — a former ten-term U.S. Congressman from California as well as a Secretary of Transportation and of Commerce — is the heart of the book, sharing his childhood experiences at Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Mineta’s memories include those of the cramped and substandard living conditions and presence of armed guards as well as Boy Scout activities and baseball games. Throughout the narrative, Warren smoothly moves from her subject’s personal experiences to incorporate the larger picture of the 120,000 people of Japanese descent interned in various camps across the U.S., making it clear that the Minetas had advantages that others did not, including financial (the ability to purchase coats to ward off the subzero Wyoming temperatures) and political (Norman’s father was not jailed and separated from his family, as were many community leaders). With so many individual stories, only one absolute emerges from this historical period: a large segment of our population, whether U.S. citizens or first-generation Japanese people deprived of citizenship, were denied their constitutional and civil rights. Warren leaves much to ponder about our nation’s past and present, about “this beautiful tapestry that is America.” Appended with additional information, notes about the research, a bibliography, an index, and recommended sources for further inquiry.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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