If you’ve been reading my ramblings all summer, you’ll recall my love for Julie Otsuka’s second novel, The Buddha in the Attic. If not, have a look, it’s brilliant.

I finally got around to reading her first and equally lovely little novel When the Emperor was Divine. The novel follows a Japanese American family as they are shipped to an internment camp in the 1940s. The topic of American internment camp still shocks and intrigues me. We did this? This happened in our country? Inside of our country? Oy, America, just when I want to believe you have the potential to be good.

Much like her second book, Otsuka focuses on personal struggle. History holds on to the edges. Coca-cola and nickel movies. Sugar rations and war bonds. But this is about the family. Beautiful sentences about a tragic time. It’s short too. The kind of book you can tuck in your bag and not feel the weight of it, the guilt of needing to finish a lengthy tome. No, you only feel the joy when your hand finds it buried at the bottom. A light little novel the flew by too quickly.

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