This atmospheric story accurately portrays a Japanese family’s adverse experiences upon release from an internment camp in 1944. Aki Ito moves with her parents to Chicago to rejoin her sister, Rose, only to be told that Rose died in a subway train accident at the Clark and Division station. This unthinkable tragedy compels our strong female character to uncover what really happened and bring the perpetrator to justice.
This richly detailed story has a strong sense of place due to the well-researched period accents. It builds on common knowledge of the treatment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II to tell the lesser known aftermath of disconnection to family due to the War Relocation Authority.
It is an emotionally compelling coming-of-age story in which Aki confronts dangers, makes friends in unexpected places, and falls in love all within the framework of a high quality historical fiction that is also a realistic whodunit.
The most revealing passages include excerpts from Rose’s diary that relate the nitty gritty of her life. Aki’s experiences of her work environment likewise underscore the insidious nature of being surrounded by casual racism. Heart-wrenching prejudice also taints the lackadaisical police investigation. This revelatory novel is gripping and informative.