“When the Emperor Was Divine” starts with the day of the Japanese departure for the camps and ends several years later. It’s every bit as good as TBitA and it’s very powerful, but it didn’t overwhelm me like TBitA. I didn’t expect it to, but I just couldn’t take another book about all that, especially not one by Otsuka, immediately after reading TBitA.
This is the story of 3 unnamed Japanese-American family members from Berkeley, California who get sent to a Utah camp and follows them through life there and later back at home. Father was taken away in December, directly after Pearl Harbor, but mom and the kids were left at home for 8 months before their journey began. This is the story of one family’s love and endurance in tough times but because the characters are known only as “the woman,” “the boy” (age 8), “the girl” (age 10), as well as the absent “father” at another camp, this family of 3 feels like a little group – and it’s their story, representative of many more families just like theirs.