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YA Review: Displacement by Kiku Hughes

Title: Displacement

Author: Kiku Hughes

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA historical fiction (graphic novel)
Pages: 288
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (California, Utah, New York, Washington)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself "stuck" back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive.

Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.

Review: I have read quite a bit about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, but had heard such good things about this graphic novel that I chose to read it. And, it won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor this year (the winner is This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda).

This graphic novel is a quick read and packs in a bunch of good information as well as a personal story, which will captivate readers. I like the idea of "displacements" where the main character, Kiku, travels back in time to experience the camps herself. It isn't a regular time travel concept as the author connects it to intergenerational trauma and experiencing the memories of our ancestors. Pretty cool.

The illustrations are effective, drawing in the reader into the camps with a combination of day to day life, politics, facts, and Kiku's personal observations. There is an Afterword that, of course, makes me happy; I love reading about the author's personal connections to a book. I also liked how after experiencing the camps, Kiku and her mom talk about their family, her mom's experiences, why the events haven't been talked about, and more.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Children's Historical fiction--takes place in the decade in which one of my parents was born (1940s)
  • Diversity--Asian American
  • Historical fiction
  • Literary Escapes--Utah
  • Popsugar--different format from what I usually read (graphic novel)

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