Publication Date: September 12, 2023
|On our shelves now
Inspired by a true story, this graphic novel follows a Jewish immigrant’s efforts to help his Japanese neighbors while they are incarcerated during World War II.
“A powerful book about advocating for friends and neighbors during times of great division.” —Kazu Kibuishi, #1 New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Amulet series
Introduction by award-winning author Ken Mochizuki
Afterword by Devin Naar, author of Jewish Salonica
Marco Calvo always knew his grandfather, affectionately called Papoo, was a good man. After all, he was named for him. A first-generation Jewish immigrant, Papoo was hardworking, smart, and caring. When Papoo peacefully passes away, Marco expects the funeral to be simple. However, he is caught off guard by something unusual. Among his close family and friends are mourners he doesn’t recognize—Japanese American families—and no one is quite sure who they are or why they are at the service. How did these strangers know his grandfather so well?
Set in the multicultural Central District of Seattle during World War II and inspired by author and artist Josh Tuininga’s family experiences, We Are Not Strangers explores a unique situation of Japanese and Jewish Americans living side by side in a country at war. Following Marco’s grandfather’s perspective, we learn of his life as a Sephardic Jewish immigrant living in America and his struggles as he settles into an America gearing up its war efforts. Despite the war raging just outside US borders, Papoo befriends Sam Akiyama, a Japanese man who finds his world upended from President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Determined to keep Sam’s business afloat while he and his family are unjustly incarcerated, Papoo creates a plan that not only changes the lives of the Akiyamas but of the entire Nihonmachi community.
An evocative and beautiful color-illustrated historical fiction graphic novel revealing the truth of one man’s extraordinary efforts, We Are Not Strangers converges two perspectives into a single portrait of a community’s struggle with race, responsibility, and what it truly means to be an American.
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