Kiku is a high schooler on vacation with her mother in San Francisco, trying to find their family home in Japantown, when she gets swept back in time to her grandmother's violin recital. She travels back and forth a few more times before she is sent back to 1942, right as her grandmother's family is being shipped out to an incarceration camp. She is "stuck" in the past for a year, living in the camps alongside other Nikkei and her grandmother, who she doesn't have the courage to speak to. Back in the present, Kiku and her mother decide to research more of the family's history and the history of the Topaz, Utah camp, and to become activists against the camps at the U.S. Border for Latinx immigrants.
I love the element of using time travel to pull us into a historical event. Kiku has a connection to the incarceration camps but admits she knows nothing about them prior to her displacement, so may put her on an even playing field with many readers who don't always get the opportunity to study Japanese Internment in their history classes. This book would be a great parallel read to George Takei's They Called Us Enemy because of the subject matter, but also be Kiku's journey follows the same path as George's - Tanforan to Topaz, Utah. While Takei's book came out as the camps at the U.S. border were being established, and thus didn't get to draw any comparisons, Displacement doesn't shy away from the opportunity to show the immigrant camps, and even sprinkles in throughout the book some of the rhetoric used by the Trump administration that echoes rhetoric used during World War II with Japanese Americans.
Hughes' illustrations are simple and clean, and beautifully colored. The past has a brown palette, referencing the dust of the camps and the dust that precedes displacement. The present has a teal palette, and occasionally the two are mixed together. Character's clothing have the pop of color to contrast with the brown backgrounds, drawing the eye in to them on the page.
First Second rates this book for ages 12-18, and that seems appropriate. Younger elementary audiences have probably not gotten into World War II in their course of study, so they may lack the background knowledge to contextualize this novel. However, for those young readers who have knowledge about WWII, there is nothing in this novel that would make it inappropriate for them.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 6-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Net Galley. This graphic novel will be on sale August 18, 2020.
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Autobiography, War
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