1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
When the Emporor Was Divine, Oct. 19 2003
"When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka tells the story of an anonymous family who suffers during the time of the internment of Japanese ¨C American citizens during World War II. Right after the attack on Peal Harbor, evacuation orders was posted everywhere stating that whoever of Japanese background was supposed to move out of town. One evening, in the middle of the night, the father of the family was taken away from the FBI for questioning. The mother after seeing the evacuation poster decided to go to that internment with her son and daughter. It was a long and miserable train ride. They weren't used to the environment. They were surrounded by wired fences, wooden towers and guards. The two kids had nothing to do. The weather is always terrible. They had to go through harsh seasons in the desert. The environment started to drive them insane. The mother had no strength for anything, she didn't want to eat and slept all the time. After the war, they were sent home. Their home was vandalized. They had returned to their normal lifestyle. Except that there was still a Japanese hatred going on. For example, the boy's and the girl's friends whom they used to be very close were trying to avoid them or even discriminate them. At the end of the book, their father was sent back home. Their lives weren't really the same anymore. The father changed so much. His physical and mental appearances were not the same as before. He turned into a sorrow and a lost person not knowing what to do. The mother works will he stays at home and wonders. Their lives have been affected and have been changed by the prejudice and war.
I really liked this book because the author, Julie Otsuka, gave us the reader a very vivid portrait of the fears, confusion for the family in the internment camps. This book gives us another point of view not from an American but from Japanese. It is written in a melancholic vocabulary. Throughout the book, the tone of this book is somewhat sad. It is showed by the descriptions of the nature and weather. But there is only one passage of the book where there is a bright happiness. It is one of the boy¡¯s dream where there is ¡°a beautiful wooden door the size of a pillow. Behind it is a second door, and behind that is a picture of the emperor that no one is allowed to see because the emperor is holy and divine ¨C a god.¡± I have learned a lot from this book. How the internment prisoners were treated and how there life had affected their lives.