Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

Page Count: 144
Expected Published: December 18th 2007 
Published by: Anchor
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Adult, Academic Fiction
Source: Paperback
Age Rating: PG-12

Where To Find ItGoodreads // Amazon

Website: {click here}

My Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads synopsis:

The debut novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award Winning Author of The Buddha in the Attic

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. 

In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines.


Hey guys!

      When The Emperor Was Divine was a novel that was assigned for one of my English classes. The novel followed a Japanese-American family who were persecuted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and how the family was sent to a work camp by the American government. 

      I found it fascinating that the family's names were left out of the story, even the most trivial characters had names, even a little doll that was mentioned. Otsuka strays from the usual tropes that a historical writer usually follows. Otsuka's writing style is so mysterious and she stays away from tugging on her readers heart strings, but instead she writes a story that is powerful and real. She does not make the conclusions for the reader, and instead leaves the novel open for interpretation and allows the readers to experience the novel for what it is. Even though the novel deals with the tragedy of what the Japanese Americans had to deal with during the second world war and during the aftermath of V-Day. 

      The most powerful section of the novel, for me, were the last couple sections when the family was free and out of the camp. The impact that the camp and their internment had on them was so powerful and terrible...each reader is left to interpret the ending as they see it. The fact that the Japanese Americans were expected to act as if nothing had happened, was an outrage, but also the fact that most Americans acted as if nothing had happened. The constant fear that the family in the novel experienced after they were freed was driven by the constant fear that they would slip up and be taken again. They no longer wanted to live as convicted criminals, they wanted to go back to the lives they had before, yet they were unable to do so.

“We looked at ourselves in the mirror and did not like what we saw: black hair, yellow skin, slanted eyes. The cruel face of the enemy.
We were guilty.”

     This is a very short book, but every page and every detail within are essential to the story, and the reader's growing understanding of what happened during that time. 

I highly recommend this novel, especially if you are curious about the World War II period. I was unable to put the novel down, and even though I had to read this for a class, it was still a very engaging and interesting novel. If you would like to read more about the books that I have read for school, then click the links below to check out the reviews for:

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Happy reading everyone! Thank you so much for sticking with me this long! I love you all so flopping much!

xx Liv
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