When the Emperor was Divine
Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 9:53PM
[beastmomma] in 2009

I realized that I did not update my currently reading section on this site before I finished When the Emperor was Divine  by Julie Otsuka.  When I first imagined the Seattle book club, I wanted to read books that went quickly and left a lot to be discussed. 

When the Emperor was Divine does exactly that; through simple narrative, we follow a Japanese American family's journey from their home to an internment camp.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character.  We follow the woman as she packs up her home to prepare for the long journey ahead.  We follow the daughter as she and her family travel by train to the desert.  We see the change in the woman and the daughter through the eyes of the boy who describes the day to day life in the internment camp.  Once the family returns from the camp, the transition home is told from the perspective of both children.  Through their eyes we witness the woman making the decision to work outside the home as a housekeeper and the precautions all the members of the family take to fit in and not be considered outsiders.   The father is a ghost throughout most of the book; we learn about him through letters and postcards he exchanges with the family.  The book ends from his perspective and the last sentence is very powerful.

Overall, I would recommend this book to a friend and I look forward to discussing it with the book club.

Article originally appeared on Beastmomma (http://beastmomma.squarespace.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.