The War Outside by Monica Hesse is about an internment camp during World War II. The book flips between two viewpoints: Haruko and Margot. Haruko is a Japanese-American, whose father is suspected of aiding Japan for the war. In contrast, Margot and her family are sent to the internment camp simply because they are German immigrants.
At the beginning of the novel, Haruko explains her journey to the camp, where her father has already been taken. Upon her arrival, she realizes that the camps have been glorified; their living conditions are much less than what they are used to.
Her family is made to live in a hut, and instead of having real currency, they are given an allowance of cardboard tokens to buy what they need. When the book transitions over to Margot’s story, she explains how life has been for her family inside of the camp, and the reader quickly sees how hard life inside of an internment camp was.
Throughout the novel, Hesse uses different stylistic methods. She switches back and forth between the two characters, and she manages to stay historically accurate with every detail in the story.
The internment camp, Crystal City, was a real base in Texas during WWII. The prisoners of the camp are also historically accurate, consisting of Japanese and German families..
The two teens struggle throughout the novel to sort through their own emotions, but both find it difficult to do, because both are fighting to keep their families together. Their friendship grows stronger as the book progresses, but in the end one makes a sacrifice for their family.