The sequel to Journey to Topaz, Journey Home tells the continuing story of Yuki Sakane as she returns from her exile at the Topaz internment camps and tries to reestablish a normal life at her old home.
Yuki still wakes up from nightmares about the prison camp – that’s what it was, a prison camp – in Topaz. She can feel the gritty sand swirling around, and just as it begins to choke her, she wakes, lying on her pallet and sweating, shaking, fearing. But she is safe now. And she’s going home.
The camp director obtained a special clearance for Yuki’s family to leave the camp at Topaz and Yuki can hardly wait to return to her old home and friends. It will be splendid to return to her home in Berkeley and once again enjoy Mrs. Jamieson’s goodies and Mimi’s warm friendship. However, Yuki is destined for disappointment when she returns to the outer world.
Initially her family is not allowed to return to Berkeley because the Japanese have been banned from that part of the country. After they get permission to return it still doesn’t feel like old times because their home has been rented out to a different family. Yuki and her family are forced to live in Reverend Wada’s already cramped parsonage. But that’s not all that’s changed. Whereas before Yuki had many friends, now everyone views them with suspicion. Even her friends are a little uneasy – after all, the government must have had some reason for banning them from California! Might not all Japanese be dangerous?
Can Yuki and her family reestablish themselves in Berkeley? Can they prove their loyalty to their new neighbors, or will everyone continue to view them with mistrust?
Yuki says that before she and her family were forced to leave Berkeley, they stopped at her sister’s grave to leave flowers. While there Yuki’s mother tells Yuki’s dead sister what is happening to their family, not in a we’re-talking-to-the-dead sort of way, but in a wishful, settling way.
When Yuki accidentally breaks a vase she fears it is a bad omen. Her mother reassures her by saying that maybe the vase was broken in place of something bad happening to her brother, Ken.
On one occasion Yuki consciously thinks that her father is wrong.
A two men smoke cigarettes on different occasions.
Yuki’s best friend mentions a boy from class. It’s very brief – if it were less brief it wouldn’t have been there.
Yuki thinks that she can send ‘mental messages’ to people. She only tries twice in the story, (these are not emphasized) and we have no answer as to whether they actually work or not. They are not at all clairvoyant, merely wishful.
When Grandma Kurihara’s leg hurts she burns incense and uses it as a counterirritant.
A priest from a Buddhist temple comes to visit Emi’s grandmother. He makes no religious statements, only discusses a robbery which took place.
When Yuki’s brother, Ken, returns from the war he is scarred – physically and emotionally. He has a hard time fitting in with the joyous family life, and this struggle manifests itself in a lack of caring or concern for his family members. In the end he is fine.
‘D—’ is used twice (fully spelled), ‘darn’ and ‘golly’ once each.
Conclusion. A worthwhile read for appropriate students, Journey Home will teach your children about the internal struggle that took place in the United States during WWII, as well as the tragedies abroad.
Review © 2012 Laura Verret