Let's just put it out there: during my year of reviewing everything I read (I know, I know I'm behind I'm busy trying to pass my PhD quals...) I knew I would run up against a time I would read a Dear America book and review it. This is a Dear Canada book, my replacement addiction after the Dear American series went defunct, came back, and is apparently defunct again. One of my recurring book related dreams is walking into a bookstore and there being 5 more of these books I haven't read yet. Naturally I use by adult-ish level money to buy them all. tl:dr I freaking love this book series and have since second grade.
That being said, there are also some troubling issues with my gateway to history books. One: there were two Native American characters in the first run of the series, four African American (woo putting a Great Migration character in there too!), and one Latina, and a fair number of immigrants from Europe. Really, it was not particularly diverse until towards the end when the really tired American history narratives (the Mayflower, the American Revolution, the Civil War just to name the first three in the series) were over. Then, when the series relaunched, I was super excited to have the issue of Japanese internment brought up in the first reboot book.
There were no Asian diarists in the original Dear America books, nor would there be in the reboot. Japanese interment was apparently going to be told by Dear America from the point of view of a white preacher's kid.
Really, with all of George Takei's discussion of this issue, after the decades since internment with the camp locations throughout the west? With major Asian communities all across the West Coast? I mean, there's nothing wrong with white girls but My Name is America (the masculine diarist version of this series) had an Japanese character write a diary about his internment so why not Dear America?
So, what's up? This is Dear Canada's second Asian narrator, and while the series almost has a comparable number of books, both Asian characters come from British Columbia and deal with very different times in history (Chinese Exclusion and World War II). Dear Canada also has two First Nations characters, so already on par with Dear America.
This 'diary' didn't focus as much on the internment itself as the years leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the challenges of Japanese-Canadians gaining even citizenship and the right to vote, even for those born in Canada (which bugged my American sensibilities for a bit, since birthright citizenship is a thing and make the internment of those Japanese-Americans who were born citizens even more troubling. But I read Dear Canada too because I know shamefully little about Canadian history). The epilogue does bring up the internment of Ukrainian communities during World War I as a precedent for the Canadian government to do this (covered by another book in the series), and all in all it seems more like an unfortunate episode in history book other than an angry one (which in all fairness the Dear *insert country here* books tend to have fairly optimistic characters).
But at least their main character in a story about a particular ethnicity being singled out as looking too much like the enemy even though they'd never been to that country and lived their whole lives in Canada/the US was actually from that community.
Really Dear America, get it together. This is how kids learn the basics of history. If you can have a 1970s anti-war diary, or a Trail of Tears diary, then you can have one written by an Asian character. There is the whole West Coast, you know, with Asian characters ripe for the selection instead of the Chicago Fire or something.
If I wasn't trying to pass my quals I'd even try to write one for you. It could be fun?