Thursday, August 17, 2006
Aleutian Sparrow, by Karen Hesse, 2003
The Aleutian Islands curve from the westernmost tip of Alaska toward Russia, dividing the Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea. Vera, an Aleut from the island of Kashega, is one of 800 evacuated to a camp by the U.S. government in 1942 after the Japanese attack Unalaska island. Displaced Aleuts were treated more like the enemy than Germans in P.O.W. camps, suffering disease, malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, and ostracization from nearby Alaskan towns. Only 3 in 4 lived to return to their ravaged homes which U.S. soliders had occupied. Vera's fictional story, based on the true story of a fragile culture in crisis, is told in this non-rhyming novel in verse. Sensitive treatment of a little-known chapter in American history provides an opportunity for young people to consider the human and moral costs of displacement policy. Strongly recommended.