Essentially a story of mothers and daughters caught up in the web of wartime political decisions—the ‘relocation’ camps for Japanese American citizens post Pearl Harbor. Decisions that resulted in human suffering and injustice. The consequences for internees were lost amidst the panic of officials, and blanketed by reactionary national fears and bureaucratic purpose. These decisions had far flung implications and encompassed deep personal tragedies for the people involved. Manzanar was one of ten Internment camps where Japanese American citizens were unconstitutionally incarcerated. Told through the eyes of a Japanese American daughter Lucy, and in tandem with her daughter Patty, this is a gut wrenching and powerful story of generations of unhappiness. The main characters wash up against the sea of others, each islands of pain. Abuse of power reaches out its tendrils and seizes those who are vulnerable. Humanity is under duress in unspeakable conditions that at this time was repeated across many continents. The novel comes out of dark days; dark story blots on landscape of history.
I was searching for the hope and redemption. It comes but with a cost. One quite striking moment of light is where Lucy’s self-contained mother shows concern towards an older woman in the toilet block. An unspeakable vignette. Later Lucy’s relationship with Garvey highlights the theme of people being trapped by their circumstances. For me tension thrums from every page. The odd pieces of taxidermy amongst Lucy’s things take on new meaning and significance in the later part of the novel. Reworked bodies with no life, sculptured into being. Life saved into death.
A thought provoking work.
A Netgalley ARC