Sylvia and Aki

Written by Winifred Conkling
Review by Viviane Crystal

Aki Munemitsu’s life is about to undergo an amazing and undesirable change. For after Japan attacks the United States on December 7, 1941, all Japanese-Americans residing in the United States are under suspicion of being spies or, quite simply, the enemy. Her family’s peaceful, prosperous status as successful farmers changes to that of prisoners of war, and they are sent to a temporary, but no less shameful, interment camp. For now, Aki leaves behind a hidden treasure, one that will come to tie her to another young girl, Sylvia Mendez. Sylvia is the daughter of Mexican-Americans, and she is very excited about finally attending school. Imagine her shock when she is told she cannot attend the nearby Westminster School but must go to the one assigned to all Mexican families. As she puts it so sadly, “We’re being treated like second-class people.” However, her father is not going to take this decision without protest. The story of his action that would affect all of California’s school children and eventually the nation’s, and the story of Aki and Sylvia’s friendship fills the remaining pages with real-life sorrows, joys, and hope that every reader is sure to remember and love. Based on real historical events, Sylvia and Aki is a wonderful read for all ages.