Saturday, December 12, 2015

Journey Home by Yoshiko Uchida


Even though Journey to Topaz was about a young girl and her family's experiences in a Japanese internment camp during WWII, this book - about the same family's re-integration into the "real world" after being released from the camp - seemed to be the heavier read. You'd think that having your father taken away by the FBI, and being sent to live in make-shift barracks in the middle of a dessert (as told in Journey to Topaz), would have as much gravitas as you could bear in a children's book. Yet, this one really had more.

Yuki's family returns to their hometown of Berkeley. Some friends from camp join them, and they also make new friends. But everything's different. This book is very explicit about the racism the Japanese encountered even after the war ended, and Yuki's brother Ken returns from war with what sounds like PTSD, even though those words aren't used in the book. Perhaps Ken's emotional problems were handled a little too easily, but it's probably age-appropriate for the intended audience of the book.

A really poignant read that exposes children to the harsh realities of race in America. Still, it holds an important message of forgiveness and hope.

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