This book, based on the actual romance of the author's maternal grandparents, shows that love can flourish anywhere. It's a wise, gentle way to introduce children ages 6 - 9 to a terrible chapter of U.S. history: the wrongful imprisonment of Japanese Americans in incarceration camps during World War II.

On the first page, we meet Tama, a librarian at the Minidoka incarceration camp, as she brushes dust out of her eyes on the way to work and avoids looking at the guards in their high tower. She isn't trained to be a librarian; she simply likes books, and "in the camps, people did the jobs that needed doing, and that was that."

We also quickly meet her most faithful customer, George, who every day awaits with a stack of books he checked out only the day before. Illustrator Yas Imamura -- who's masterful in her attention to design, color, and detail -- captures the magnetic glance that passes between Tama and George, all the more powerful in a drab environment.

Even while remaining age appropriate, Tokuda-Hall does not mince words about what her grandparents endured: How Tama should have graduated from college the previous summer but couldn't because simply "being Japanese American then was treated like a crime" and how conditions in all the camps were "uncomfortable and unjust." She writes honestly about the brutal heat and cold, lack of privacy, and other dangerous and humiliating conditions.

Tokuda-Hall then uses these very conditions to propel her story. As she imagines the constant worry and fear that Tama must have felt, she uses them as a contrast to the constancy in her life of George and his big smile. She also brings in the constant companionship of books, which ignite Tama's imagination and allow her to travel in her thoughts beyond the camp's constraints.

It's when Tama tries to share her feelings about the camps with George and finds herself at an uncharacteristic loss for words that she allows herself tears. To console her, George supplies the word she needs for how she feels: human. From that point of intimate understanding, their love blossoms.

Tokudo-Hall acknowledges that love is always a gift, but that falling in love in a place like Minidoka, "built to make people feel like they weren't human," was miraculous. The miracle continues to the present day as Tama and George Takuda's granddaughter brings us their story and others, like her Parents' Choice Gold Award-winning picture book Also an Octopus.

Her closing Author's Note for Love in the Library candidly ties the terrible injustices of the incarceration camps to other aspects of racism today, from Muslim bans to voter suppression, food deserts and more. Yet she acknowledges that even amid hate, "many of us find improbable joy." Her grandparents' love story reminds her to hope: "To let my heart seek out the beauty and the peace the marginalized miraculously create for themselves. To let myself imagine a future where that love is not improbable, but easy. To force myself to fight for that future."

She has surely fought well by writing this heart-stirring book.