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The woman read the notice with relatively little emotion.  Things hadn’t been the same since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Her husband had been gone for months, and the house hardly seemed the same.  Now because they were Japanese-Americans, she and the children would have to leave as well.  They did not know where they would be going.  Nor did they know what would happen to their house and their possessions while they were gone.  They could take only what they could carry.  So the family packed their belongings and left for the hot desert where they would live for years until the end of the war.  And though they would one day return, their lives would never be the same.

Julie Otsuka’s writing style is quiet and distant.  She never gives her characters names, but allows the reader to experience the thoughts of all three major characters–mother, son, and daughter–as they live in the internment camps.  Though the writing style is subdued, there is disturbing content, so it is not a “gentle read.”  But it will be more enjoyable to readers who like a gentle writing style than those who enjoy suspenseful or plot driven novels.  Personally, the quiet style did not engage me, but it may be more engaging to other readers.  The historical content itself was certainly interesting.

One thought on “WHEN THE EMPEROR WAS DIVINE by Julie Otsuka

    butimbeautiful said:
    October 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I see what you mean. I like the ‘spareness’ but ‘the woman’ could get a bit monotonous.

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