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Annotation: In this historical graphic novel, a modern teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother's experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps.
Catalog Number: #253798
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 274 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-250-19353-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8759-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-250-19353-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8759-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019938064
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In a nod to Octavia Butler's Kindred, Hughes meditates on generational trauma and her grandmother's experiences in incarceration camps during WWII. Kiku's exploring San Francisco with her mother when she first travels back in time, but her longest displacement occurs when her grandmother, Ernestine, is imprisoned first at Tanforan and then Topaz, in Utah. Kiku finds herself stuck there, too, observing her grandmother and experiencing first hand not only the struggle to survive but the undercurrent of fear, the difficult choices faced by the Nikkei in the camps, and the sense of community they cobbled together. Spare, fine-lined artwork in muted earth tones emphasizes the flat desert landscape and echoes the staid, somber tone of the narrative overall, which is dense with voice-overs reflecting on the reverberating impact of the camps on her family and the Japanese diaspora in general. Hughes powerfully places this story amid the onset of Trump's Muslim Ban and incarceration of refugees at the Mexican border, potently reminding readers that racism still permeates the fabric of our society.
Horn Book
This graphic novel blends historical fact and science fiction into an enthralling time-travel tale. An imagined version of debut author Hughes's teenage self is suddenly "displaced" to her late grandmother's youth during World War II, following her grandmother's family as they are forced from San Francisco first to the nearby Tanforan Assembly Center, then to Utah's Topaz Relocation Center. The skillful illustrations, with muted colors and drab backgrounds, emphasize the degradations of prison life (constant surveillance, shoddy housing) and the efforts people took to make it livable (gardens, dances). Hughes successfully employs her own family history, along with characters and story lines beyond it, to show the emotional conflicts Japanese Americans experienced. She also explores how the memories of those emotional struggles contributed to hidden generational trauma: a roommate speaks up about the rights of Japanese Americans at the prison camp yet shames Kiku's request to learn the Japanese language; the inmates experience fear over a loyalty questionnaire; they face uncertainty about restarting lives from scratch after the camps are closed. The story draws parallels to current events and encourages readers to remember and recontextualize this painful part of American history. Back matter includes an author's note, photos, glossary, and reading list. Pair with George Takei's They Called Us Enemy (rev. 9/19).
Kirkus Reviews
Time travel brings a girl closer to someone she’s never known.Sixteen-year-old Kiku, who is Japanese and white, only knows bits and pieces of her family history. While on a trip with her mother to San Francisco from their Seattle home, they search for her grandmother’s childhood home. While waiting for her mother, who goes inside to explore the mall now standing there, a mysterious fog envelops Kiku and displaces her to a theater in the past where a girl is playing the violin. The gifted musician is Ernestina Teranishi, who Kiku later confirms is her late grandmother. To Kiku’s dismay, the fog continues to transport her, eventually dropping her down next door to Ernestina’s family in a World War II Japanese American internment camp. The clean illustrations in soothing browns and blues convey the characters’ intense emotions. Hughes takes inspiration from her own family’s story, deftly balancing complicated national history with explorations of cultural dislocation and biracial identity. As Kiku processes her experiences, Hughes draws parallels to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and the incarceration of migrant children. The emotional connection between Kiku and her grandmother is underdeveloped; despite their being neighbors, Ernestina appears briefly and feels elusive to both Kiku and readers up to the very end. Despite some loose ends, readers will gain insights to the Japanese American incarceration and feel called to activism.A timely and well-paced story of personal discovery. (photographs, author’s note, glossary, further reading) (Graphic historical fantasy. 12-16)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (7/1/20)
Horn Book (8/1/20)
Kirkus Reviews
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 10,426
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 512189 / grade: Upper Grades

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.

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