A Boy No More

Written by Harry Mazer
Review by Ken Kreckel


In this sequel to A Boy at War, author Harry Mazer picks up the story of young Adam Pelko after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where he witnessed his father’s death on the USS Arizona. Now evacuated to San Diego with his mother and sister, Adam is faced with the task of rebuilding his life. However, the effects of the new war follow him in many ways, most of all in the form of a letter from his best friend in Hawaii, Davi Mori. Davi’s father has been arrested, and he needs Adam’s help. This letter launches him on a mission to get word to Davi’s uncle in Fresno. On the subsequent journey Adam not only is forced into conflict with his mother, but learns firsthand of the nation’s new fear and hatred of the Japanese. When he finally reaches the uncle, Adam finds his friend and his entire family have been relocated to the forbidding internment camp at Manzanar.

The author does a masterful job of blending the issues of a boy becoming a young man with the larger reality of the nation’s treatment of its citizens of Japanese descent. Mr. Mazer was inspired by the tragedies of September 11, and he wished to have his readers recognize “the parallels and perils” of the prejudice and guilt-by-association mentality that gripped the nation after Pearl Harbor. I believe he has succeeded in this, telling a story that is at once historical and deeply human. He also includes several pages of factual background, an excellent addition for young readers who are probably not familiar with this period of history

Having visited an internment camp similar to Manzanar, I find the author’s descriptions to be accurate. The thoughts and actions of Adam Pelko also ring true. This is a wonderful book, well suited to its intended audience of ages 10 to 14.