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Love in the Library

February 14th…Valentine’s Day and Library Lovers day!!!

As I browsed my book shelf I found the perfect picture book…a love story that happened in the library.

Looking beyond the cutesy romance story, Love in the Library is book about the human spirit, the human capacity to find love and hope  at times and in places when it does not seem possible to find either one. 

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, the President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt passed and order which enforced that American citizens of Japanese ancestry were to be “relocated”. 1,20,000 Japanese American citizens were incarcerated, losing not just their jobs, homes, education and personal possessions, but also their freedom and dignity. 

This is an incredible, largely true story of how the author’s maternal grandparents fell in love, against all odds, during their time at the Minidoka incarceration camp, where they were unjustly imprisoned.

Tama knew nothing about how to be a librarian before coming to the camp, but because she liked books, she volunteered for the job. 

“...people did the jobs that needed doing and that was that.” 

Life in the camp could be described as ‘constant’. “Constant questions. Constant worries. Constant fears.” 

Every morning, George would be waiting for Tama at the entrance of the one-room shack of a library, with an armful of books that he checked out the day before.

Although the title suggests where the book is going, we do not learn until much later when Tama asks George how he could possibly read so many books in a single night that he admits that he does not really come for the books. What he comes for is to meet Tama. 

“To fall in love is already a gift. But to fall in love in a place like Minidoka, a place built to make people feel loke they weren’t human- that was miraculous. That was humans doing what human do best” 

In these times when when there is so much that is the opposite of love everywhere, the last 2 pages are the perfect message…

“The miracle is in us,” Tama wrote in her journal.
“As long as we believe in change, in beauty, in hope.” 
“ That miracle is hard to find sometimes, But it is in all of us. 

This Valentines Day, I wish that you find strength in the love that abounds around us and the hope that keeps us keeping on. 

Read this blog post by the author in response to Scholastic’s request that she cut the words “virulent racism” from a sentence about the trauma caused by anti-Japanese American policies and that she eliminate a paragraph about racism’s broader legacy in America.

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