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  • A greatly written and important historical fiction

    Trigger Warnings for the book: slurs against Japanese people (namely J*p, Y*llow, N*p ), hate speech, racism, assault, living and working in incarceration camps in dismal conditions, death/murder of inmates, animal death, riots, fire, abuse, imprisonment, war (descriptions of battle). Representation: Japanese-American cast, one Achillean character This book is so good that I doubt I can write a review that does it justice. The world has always been rife with discrimination and atrocities, but they are somewhat ignored and brushed over in hindsight (or even in the present) in the favour of the image a country wants to maintain of its history or because of the power they hold in the world, they are invincible; as it evident by the many atrocities committed by Europeans all over the world in their quest of colonialism, by Americans against the first Nations people and against Black Americans to this day, by Japanese imperialist army against China and the Nanking massacre, by China against Uyghur Muslims who are in concentration camps right now, and so many more. I think this book, that talks about the incarceration of over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry by the US government after the attach at Pearl Harbour, serves as a good reminder about how we as people like to forget or ignore the truth of the world. I really, really liked the 14 characters that this book uses to tell the story of 3 years of evacuation, incarceration, war and abject discrimination that Japanese faced during World War II, the effects of which are still be present in society today. The book has very strong storytelling, pace and characters. The way it covers the many aspects of the historic event, albeit in a fictionalised manner, does not leave anything to be desired. It certainly feels like it present a complete picture. I liked the care that was taken by the author to point out that these experiences are in no way all encompassing; but they certainly do cover many avenues. Every single one of the 14 characters in this book have very distinct voices, distinct personalities, and very distinct outlooks on life in general and their current situation. I liked the way that rather than cycling through many different POVs, the book uses a single POV narrative to advance the plot and the timeline. It provides suspense and explores the event through different angles; and every single one of those angles feels valid and realistic. Since, the book covers many events and experiences, it is interesting and refreshing to see them all through different eyes, or even the right eyes. The way the book so subtly covers the usage and outcomes of propaganda is really admirable. It shows us its effects on people it is meant to subdue and on those its meant to rile up. The way it is continuously used by governments to force people into situations that they don’t necessarily want or deserve to be in. How it is used to divide and conquer, and further oppress. How it can make certain people feel so highly out of place, that they are ready to abandon their entire lives to be free of the consequences of it. I found this book to be stunning and marvellous. Having read about the history of Japanese incarceration camps (not in full detail or extreme depth, however), I believe that this book provides a very stark picture of the event. Along with its exemplary portrayal of the events, the book won my heart its characters. And the unconventional, but effective, storytelling method was the icing on the cake.

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