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"I wrote Hank about visiting Camp Harmony. I told him about trying to figure out whether the Japanese being sent away for the war was any different than his being sent away for the war, like Bud said. Is it really like rationing, just one more thing we all have to pitch in and do for the war effort?"
Piper Davis[2]

The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis is the thirty-seventh book in Dear America. It was the first new book to be published after the series was relaunched. The book was written by Kirby Larson; her first and only for the series. It was released in September 2010 by Scholastic and was followed by Like the Willow Tree.

The story follows thirteen-year-old Piper Davis, a pastor's daughter, during World War II.


"This book is dedicated to all the nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in the ten War Relocation Camps during World War II, but especially to those in Minidoka."

Book description[]

"My name is Piper. This is my story....
One fateful day in December 1941, Piper Davis awaits news of her brother, a soldier on the battleship
Arizona stationed in Pearl Harbor. Explosions rule the earth and sky, and Piper wonders what will become of her brother, and of her life in Seattle, as rationing and blackouts take hold. Soon, Piper is greeted by another grim reality—the incarceration of her Japanese neighbors.
Piper's father, a pastor for a Japanese Baptist church, decides to follow his congregants when they are sent to an incarceration camp, bringing Piper along with him. She resents being uprooted, but as she learns about the harsh and heartbreaking realities of war, Piper begins to understand that she has the power to make a difference.


Thirteen-year-old Piper Davis lives in Seattle, Washington with her twenty-year-old sister, Margie, and her father, Pastor Emery Davis. Piper frequently helps out at her father's church, the Seattle Japanese Baptist Church. Her brother, Hank, joined the navy the previous June and has since been stationed at Pearl Harbor. In late November 1941, Piper becomes closer to Bud Greene after he choses her as his project partner. Then, on December 7, the Japanese army launches an attack on Pearl Harbor. Piper's family does not receive word from Hank until the twenty-second of that month. Meanwhile, Piper witnesses an increasing anti-Japanese sentiment, including a boy spitting on Betty Sato.

The FBI takes away several older Japanese men, including Betty's father. Piper reaches out to Betty, who thanks her for listening though "Nothing is okay." Later, Hank's friend John Anderson comes to Seattle to recover from injuries sustained at Pearl Harbor. Piper enjoys visiting him as he reminds her of Hank. Margie marries her boyfriend, Stan Robinson, on Valentine's Day. The same day, Bud takes Debbie Sue Wilkins to the Valentine's Ball. Piper avoids him and even refuses to talk to him at one point. Bud eventually explains himself and asks Piper to "be his girl," which she accepts. Piper later starts to explore her passion for photography, becoming engrossed in the work of Margaret Bourke-White.

Starting in March, Japanese people are being evacuated from their homes to the temporary facility, Camp Harmony. On May 1, Piper's friends and neighbors, including Betty and her family, are sent away too. Piper frequents the camp with her father, whom has remained a strong advocate for the Japanese. The following August, Betty and the others are moved to Minidoka, which is nearly as bad as Camp Harmony. Piper soon starts the eighth grade. However, her father decides to move near Minidoka, which makes Piper furious. Before leaving, Bud breaks up with Piper, saying they "should see other people." Margie stays behind in Seattle to continue working at Boeing, a job she took up after Stan enlisted.

Piper and her father find a home in the town near Minidoka, though they are soon evicted when the bigoted Mr. Crofton buys it. Pastor Emery is able to find another home to rent. Piper attends school at the camp when it opens. She gets closer to Betty's older brother, Jim, whom she views as a "big brother." The situation becomes awkward when Betty reveals Jim has a crush on Piper. They later talk it out and agree to remain friends. Now early 1943, Jim decides to enlist in the army despite his sister's protests. Betty comes to terms to with it and stitches him a senninbari to protect him. Piper takes photos of Jim's family and friends to make him a photo album, which she gives to him shortly before he leaves.


In 1945, Piper returned to Seattle with her father after the final incarcerees left Minidoka. She went on to pursue journalism at the University of Washington, where she met her husband Seth Brown. Piper worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a photojournalist. Her work won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967. She retired in 2003. Pastor Emery continued his work at the Japanese Baptist Church until his retirement in 1979. Nearly one thousand people attended a banquet held in his honor.

Hank returned to the United State in 1943 for aviation training. Following the war, he went to college and had a successful career in sales. Hank later became a pastor like his father. Betty and Hank married, having corresponded during the war. She stayed at home to take of their three children. In her fifties, she wrote a memoir about Minidoka with Piper. Jim died in France in October 1944 at age nineteen.

Historical Note[]

The United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Army on December 7, 1941. Over 2,500 people were killed. Anti-Japanese sentiment lead to the media portraying them as "potential spies and saboteurs." President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, which caused the internment of 120,000 Japanese citizens. Two-thirds were American by birth. In Washington state, 7,390 were sent to the poorly equipped Puyallup Assembly Center ("Camp Harmony"). From June to October, incarcerees were sent to relocation centers in Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Arkansas, Utah, California, and Idaho. Campy Harmony residents went to Minidoka in Idaho.

Thirty-six residential block housed around 10,000 people at Minidoka. For several months, there was no running water or a sewage system. In January 1943, officials reversed their decision to prohibit nisei (second generation Japanese) from the military. One thousand men and women from Minidoka volunteered, the most of any camp. In December 1944, the Supreme Court ruled the detainment of United States citizens unconstitutional. By the following year, all of the incarcerees had been released. Sixteen photographs and a map follow. One photo depicts the family of Pastor Emery Andrews, whom Piper's father was based on. The section rounds out with a recipe for oatmeal molasses cookies and President Roosevelt's Day of Infamy speech.


Main article: List of The Fences Between Us characters


Main article: Kirby Larson

Kirby Larson is an American children's and young adult author. She is best known for Hattie Big Sky and writing the books for the American Girl character Nanea Mitchell. The books about Nanea are also set during World War II. The Fences Between Us is Larson's only entry for Dear America. Larson grew up in Seattle, where the book is partly set. She drew inspiration for the story from the real-life Pastor Emery Andrews, whom moved his family from Seattle to Minidoka to be closer to his congregation.


  • Narrator: Elaina Erika Davis
  • Publisher: Scholastic Audio
  • Published: September 1, 2010[4]
  • Running time: 6 hours and 12 minutes
  • No. of discs: 5
  • ISBN: 9780545249546[5]


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (2011)[6]



  • The portrait on the cover was illustrated by Tim O'Brien. The background image was licensed from the Granger Collection, New York.[7]


See also[]

Arts & Crafts, File:The Fences Between Us Discussion Guide.pdf, File:The Fences Between Us Paper Doll.pdf

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]