The theme of the novel is the treatment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast during World War II. The story centers on Sumiko (Sue) Ohara, a high school senior from Cordova, California. It describes the internment of herself, her brother Kim, and her mother in Amache, Colorado, while her father is sent to North Dakota. During her stay there, she falls in love with a neighbor from Cordova, Jiro Ito. The novel ends in 1943, with the war still in progress, as Jiro and Kim join the army, and Sue and Jiro's sister go to college. The book stresses the patriotism of the ordinary Japanese American.
"We're really the newest pioneers," Sue said in a hushed voice. "We, the evacuees, the moved-outers. We're American patriots, loving our country with our hearts broken. And those who must can be pioneers behind barbed wire, but those who can must go out and pioneer in the wide world." 
Brian Niiya, The Moved-Outers Densho Encyclopedia
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