A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother's experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes. Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II. These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself "stuck" back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive. Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.
She writes it off as a strange dream, but then it happens again and she returns with a physical reminder of her trip, which she dubs a displacement. The third time it happens, Kiku is forced into the incarceration camps and the experience her grandmother also had as a teenager during this terrible time. The book presents a well-researched portrait of the time and the difficult decisions that those inside had to make, all while fearing for their safety.
The book really brings this experience to the reader with insights into decisions and the feelings, fear, and trouble that permeated these life experiences. I also really appreciated the end discussion that Kiku has with her mother that ties in the ways that the internment shaped future generations, their connections to their culture, and the "model minority" myths.
DISPLACEMENT is a really powerful story, told largely in narration alongside images, but it works perfectly for this story. The book is quite moving and really important to read in the present. I also really loved the inclusion of the author's own story and that of her family at the end, which inspired the book. The difficulty of the incarceration camps and treatments of the race come to life in a real way through this compelling read. Highly recommend this important read.