Review of My Nest of Silence

My Nest of SilenceMy Nest of Silence
by Matt Faulkner; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    384 pp.    g
10/22    978-1-5344-7762-9    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-7764-3    $10.99

Like many Japanese Americans, the Asai family has been sent to Manzanar during World War II. Mari has always enjoyed a special bond with her older brother, Mak—he alone seems to appreciate and nurture her gift for ­drawing—but when he decides to enlist in the army, it divides the family. Their father, Ichiro, refuses to speak to Mak, and Mari takes a vow of silence, pledging to remain mute until her brother returns. The story is told from Mari’s first-person perspective, but when letters from Mak arrive, the narrative segues into graphic-novel panels that vividly capture his experiences in the 442nd infantry regiment, the most decorated in U.S. military history. Mak and his comrades exhibit heroism and bravery, even in the face of prejudice. In contrast, Mari chronicles daily life in Manzanar, particularly the community’s response to her silence; the evolving dynamics among her father, mother, and absent brother; and the sense of optimism that permeates the story’s end as Mak is spared the worst violence of the war and the Asai family makes plans for the next chapter in their lives beyond Manzanar. Mari’s reflective internal narrative, coupled with Mak’s action-packed sequences, marks this unique contribution to the growing body of work in children’s literature around Japanese American internment.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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