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From the time of its first publication in 1960, Conrad Richter's The Waters of Kronos sparked lively debate about the extent to which its story of a belated return to childhood scenes mirrored key events of Richter's own life. As was well known at the time, Richter had spent several years in the Southwest, where he collected the material for his first successful book, Early Americans and Other Stories, but by 1933, he had returned to live in his hometown, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania.
John Donner, the main protagonist in The Waters of Kronos, traces a similar route from west to east, although he finds that his family home and native town have been submerged under the deep waters of a lake formed by the construction of a hydroelectric dam. As Richter narrates his alter ego's efforts to salvage his past, he moves beyond "semi-autobiography" to offer what are widely recognized as his most haunting reflections upon the power of family history, the fragility of human memory, and art's role in structuring the communal ethos. David McCullough, a fellow Pulitzer Prize winner, met and befriended Richter in the 1960s and has called him "an American master," praising The Waters of Kronos as "his most beautiful book."
Displacement is simply incredible. This story follows a young girl, Kiku, living in San Fransisco who has been making small efforts to connect with her Japanese American descent, when suddenly, Kiku begins to be whisked away in time and place—what she calls being “displaced”—and she realizes she is being pulled into the time of Japanese American incarceration during WWII. These displacements keep happening, until suddenly, Kiku is trapped in the past. She is displaced into a Japanese incarceration camp, and must learn to live during this terrible time and place for her fellow Japanese Americans, without knowing if she’ll ever return. This graphic novel is so quietly powerful and so superbly genius in the way it tells the story. Kiku discusses these displacements and how horrifying it is to be taken from her home and unsure of when she’ll ever get back—which functions as a perfect allegory to the very experience of those Japanese Americans who were taken from their homes and their lives wrongfully, without knowing where they were going or how long they’d be there. It connects the reader to this painful, real experience in an amazing way. This graphic novel is also deeply educational, taking you through many facets and details of the experience of those Japanese Americans who lived through these camps, while also pointing out how limited public education is around this terrible part of our American history. Displacement will stay with me forever; this gem is a must-have for any graphic novel collection, and an extremely important read for all Americans.
(Graphic Novel, Ages 10+) - reviewed by Isabel