When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A short but powerful story of a Japanese-American family torn apart during World War II. The father of a nameless family in California is arrested the evening of the Pearl Harbor attack. His family is eventually sent to an internment camp. Julie Otsuka shows the harsh realities that these innocent people had to endure before, during, and after their confinement.
Otsuka uses an interesting technique in keeping the family nameless. The reader never feels like they get to know the family well, which is likely the intent. They were one of thousands of families that suffered, they could be any Japanese-American family. The reader understands the distance put between them and their neighbors and friends, understands the shun and loneliness forced upon them. Although the message came through loud and clear, I thought the story could have been developed more. It was a short "novel" that dragged a little in the middle. It is worth the read, especially if you don't know much about the Japanese internment camps, but there are many other books out there that give a more detailed account.
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