Review: Displacement

Title: Displacement
Author: Kiku Hughes
Genres:  Historical, graphic novel
Pages: 288
Publisher: First Second
Review Copy: Library
Availability: Available now

Summary: 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. — Cover image and summary via Goodreads

Review: Displacement is one of those stories where the title carries incredible weight and layers of meaning — as does the story itself.

In Displacement, Kiku finds herself displaced in time and place, taken back in the past to experience the Japanese internment camps alongside her grandmother. Her displacement and disorientation isn’t so different from what her grandmother is experiencing — after all, during World War 2, Japanese Americans were displaced from their homes and lives. During her time being displaced, Kiku comes to truly understand what her grandmother’s generation went through and get to know the people who fought for their civil rights against terrible odds — something that isn’t fully taught in history classes.

The art is incredible, and works seamlessly with the text to create a powerful narrative. I can’t imagine that portraying a modern teen traveling back in time to experience the internment camps is an easy feat to pull off — and the way this graphic novel does it is ambitious and evocative, and so well-done.

Displacement goes above and beyond portraying history — it ties it into historical movements and what is happening today. It highlights the power of memory, the impact of generational trauma, and how important it is that marginalized communities be in solidarity with each other. I can’t recommend Displacement enough — it’s an absolute must read, especially now.

Recommendation: Buy it now! This is such a powerful graphic novel and it’s particularly timely right now during election season.