Published January 21, 2022

In advance of the 2022 Festival schedule announcement later this month, we are honored to announce that We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, a National Book Award finalist book for young readers, is the 2022 Jefferson-Madison Regional Library (JMRL) Same Page Community Read selection. The 2022 Festival will feature Chee in two public events and one school event, discussing the Same Page title as well as her new release, A Thousand Steps Into Night, a Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

About the author:

Traci Chee is a bestselling and award-winning author of books for young people. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, egg painting, bonsai gardening, and hosting game nights for family and friends. She lives in California with her fast dog.

About the books:

We Are Not Free (2020) is the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco. Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted. Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps. In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

“Ambitious in scope and complexity, this is an essential contribution to the understanding of the wide-ranging experiences impacting people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. during WWII.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Chee is a master storyteller… Here, she uses her own San Francisco–based Japanese American family’s history to inform a blazing and timely indictment of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Her passion and personal involvement combine with her storytelling talents to create a remarkable and deeply moving account of the incarceration.”—Booklist, starred review

A Thousand Steps Into Night (2022) is a Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

About Same Page Community Read:

Each year, the Virginia Festival of the Book partners with JMRL to present public programming celebrating the annual Same Page Community Read author, selected by committee. As part of the Same Page community-wide reading series, the Festival features appearances by Traci Chee discussing the selected title and her new release. Additional programming will be presented by JMRL throughout March. Learn more at

Partners & Sponsors  |  View All

With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

Cornell NEH Virginia Public Media - NPR & PBS Charlottesville Albemarle UVA CHO