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Clark and Division

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Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been releas Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the US government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled two thousand miles away in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family’s reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train. Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose’s death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth. Inspired by historical events, Clark and Division infuses an atmospheric and heartbreakingly real crime fiction plot with rich period details and delicately wrought personal stories Naomi Hirahara has gleaned from thirty years of research and archival work in Japanese American history.


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Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been releas Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. Twenty-year-old Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from Manzanar, where they have been detained by the US government since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, together with thousands of other Japanese Americans. The life in California the Itos were forced to leave behind is gone; instead, they are being resettled two thousand miles away in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister, Rose, was sent months earlier and moved to the new Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division streets. But on the eve of the Ito family’s reunion, Rose is killed by a subway train. Aki, who worshipped her sister, is stunned. Officials are ruling Rose’s death a suicide. Aki cannot believe her perfect, polished, and optimistic sister would end her life. Her instinct tells her there is much more to the story, and she knows she is the only person who could ever learn the truth. Inspired by historical events, Clark and Division infuses an atmospheric and heartbreakingly real crime fiction plot with rich period details and delicately wrought personal stories Naomi Hirahara has gleaned from thirty years of research and archival work in Japanese American history.

30 review for Clark and Division

  1. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society." (Yuri Kochiyama) Rarely are we given an opportunity to peer into the lives of those who share a common bond. An existence recognized by some and then denied by others. This country of ours is a living imprint of so many faces reflecting a bounty of cultures and races. An undeniable connection which sometimes presents itself as soft to the touch or sometimes as hard-gripping and resilient throug "Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society." (Yuri Kochiyama) Rarely are we given an opportunity to peer into the lives of those who share a common bond. An existence recognized by some and then denied by others. This country of ours is a living imprint of so many faces reflecting a bounty of cultures and races. An undeniable connection which sometimes presents itself as soft to the touch or sometimes as hard-gripping and resilient through time. In spite of our wide span of variations, we stand together on hallowed ground. Naomi Hirahara presents an extraordinary over the shoulder look into the Japanese/Japanese American encampment after Pearl Harbor in 1941. Over 10,000 individuals were forced into designated camps leaving their homes and their valuables behind. Hirahara introduces us to the Ito family who lived in Tropico, California. Mr. Ito was the manager of a produce market. He and his wife had two daughters, Rose and Aki. They were sent to the Manzanar camp in 1942 and set about adjusting to these new conditions. Choice wasn't in the cards. Eventually, Rose finds herself in Chicago in a resettlement program in 1943. Rose is now rooming with several other girls and has secured a job. The plan is that the others in the Ito family will join her in Chicago. As the train enters the Union Station, the family is met by Roy Tonai. His stricken face says it all. A tragedy has occured. It seems that Rose jumped to her death on the elevated platform the day before. How could that possibly be? Aki Ito steps forward in her quest to find out exactly what happened to her beloved sister. The family strongly believes that Rose would never commit suicide. Never. And so begins an exceptional story that showcases the aftermath of the encampments. Through the eyes of Aki and her family, we will experience their adjustment to a country obsessed with threats to national security. Even the Nisei (Americans born to Japanese parents) were under suspicion and relegated to curfews and the inability to meet in groups of more than three. And through all of this uncertainty and grief, Aki will prove herself resilient by nature even in a strange city. Aki and her parents now live in the neighborhood of Clark and Division streets. Her search for answers is sometimes marred with bad decisions and snaps of impulsivity. Aki's naivete is apparent throughout, but her love for her sister is the catalyst that sparks this novel. Hirahara's research is outstanding while aligning itself with the touching aspect of the flame of a sister's love. Certainly, a must read. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Soho Press and to Naomi Hirahara for the opportunity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara was a well researched historical fiction novel about one Japanese American family that had been living in Tropico, California prior to December 7, 1941. That day, the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, would change the lives of the Ito family forever. Mr. Ito had immigrated from Japan and arrived in Tropico to work the land many years ago. The soil was rich and plentiful with strawberry plants. Mr. Ito was an Issei or first generation Japanese American. Mrs. Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara was a well researched historical fiction novel about one Japanese American family that had been living in Tropico, California prior to December 7, 1941. That day, the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, would change the lives of the Ito family forever. Mr. Ito had immigrated from Japan and arrived in Tropico to work the land many years ago. The soil was rich and plentiful with strawberry plants. Mr. Ito was an Issei or first generation Japanese American. Mrs. Ito had emigrated from Kagoshima in 1919. She was in her late teens when she arrived in Tropica to marry Mr. Ito in an arranged marriage. Mr. Ito worked hard and over time was promoted to market manager. The Ito family was well respected. In time, they bought a house and had two daughters, Rose and Aki. Since Rose and Aki were born in the United States they were known as the Nisei. Slowly, the life that the Ito family had known, began to change. By March of 1941, an exclusion order was proclaimed by the United States government. All persons of Japanese ancestry had to report to a Civil Control Station by May. The Ito family was forced to forfeit their home and business and were only allowed to bring clothing, linens, and toiletries with them in bundles they could carry. Aki and her family were to have a new home. The United States government had placed them in Manzanar, a camp for displaced Japanese Americans, in March of 1942. By June of 1943, the War Relocation Authority, chose Rose, Aki’s older sister, to leave the camp before the rest of the Ito family, and be resettled in Chicago. Rose left Manzanar in September of 1943. Aki loved and admired her older sister more than anyone else in the world. This separation proved to be difficult for all members of the Ito family. After Rose left, Aki started to work on the leave clearance papers for her and her parents. Finally, the rest of the Ito family was granted permission to join the general population of free Americans in Chicago, with Rose. The Ito family traveled by train from Manzanar, the mass incarceration camp for over 10,000 Japanese American citizens, that had been their home for two years, to Chicago. The Ito family would be resettled in Chicago, in the Japanese American neighborhood near Clark and Division Streets, where Rose had secured housing for them. Upon their arrival, the Ito family, received the most devastating news they could have ever imagined. They were told that Rose had been killed by a subway train just the night before their arrival. It was believed that Rose had committed suicide. Twenty year old Aki could not believe that her revered sister would have ever committed such an act. Aki decided that it was up to her to prove that Rose would never had done such a thing. There must be more to Rose’s death than the authorities were revealing. Would Aki be able to figure out what actually happened to Rose and how she died? Clark and Division revealed more about what life was like for the Japanese American citizens living among the free general population in Chicago than life in the internment camp, Manzanar. In 1940, prior to the attack at Pearl Harbor, there were fewer than 400 citizens of Japanese descent in Chicago. The number of Japanese American citizens grew to over 20,000 by the early 1950’s. Japanese American families that resettled in Chicago faced housing discrimination. These new transplants were not welcomed in many neighborhoods and buildings. The obstacles they faced were many. In order to help these Japanese American citizens, the Japanese American Service Committee was created by the U.S. government to help the many Japanese American families that had resettled in Chicago. Aki’s parents were forced to accept menial jobs of employment. The family went from owning a spacious home in California to living in a tiny walk up apartment in disrepair. Aki was fortunate enough to secure employment at The Newberry Library. Even burying Rose proved to present problems. In those days, Japanese descendants were not allowed to buried in most cemeteries. Rose’s ashes had to be placed in an urn and was stored in the Japanese Mausoleum in the Montrose Cemetery. Life for Aki and her family was hard, perhaps even harder than it had been at Manzanar. Clark and Division was a beautifully written historical fiction novel that was inspired by historical events and a poignant mystery. The shameful treatment of Japanese American citizens was vividly described and depicted in great detail in this book. It was also about the courage and determination of some Japanese American citizens. I learned a great deal about the life Japanese Americans lived after being pushed out of the camps that they were initially placed in. I really enjoyed reading Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara and recommend it highly. I won an advanced copy of Clark and Division in a goodreads give away. Thank you to Soho Press, inc. distributed to the trade by Penguin Random House Publishers Services for allowing me to read this advanced copy of Clark and Division which will be published in August 2021.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    A problem for me as a book reviewer on Amazon and Goodreads is the use of the 3 star rating. Out of five stars, the ratings of 4 or 5 stars connote a “positive” rating, and 1, 2, and 3 stars mean a “negative” rating. I think the 3 stars should be a “neutral” rating, which would for mean a book I didn’t consider good or bad. Basically, it means a book I didn’t regret reading, but wouldn’t remember reading a month later. And so it is for Naomi Hirahara’s new novel, “Clark and Division”. Set in Chic A problem for me as a book reviewer on Amazon and Goodreads is the use of the 3 star rating. Out of five stars, the ratings of 4 or 5 stars connote a “positive” rating, and 1, 2, and 3 stars mean a “negative” rating. I think the 3 stars should be a “neutral” rating, which would for mean a book I didn’t consider good or bad. Basically, it means a book I didn’t regret reading, but wouldn’t remember reading a month later. And so it is for Naomi Hirahara’s new novel, “Clark and Division”. Set in Chicago in 1944, the novel tells of the Ito family. Originally from the Los Angeles area, the family had spent two years in the settlement camp at Manzanar, the Itos had been released to live in Chicago. The parents were Issei and their 2 daughters were Nisei. The older daughter, Rose, had gone ahead of the rest of the family to begin their transition to Chicago. But when the parents and younger sister, Aki, arrive in Chicago, they are greeted by members of the relocation office who tell them that Rose has been killed by falling in front of a subway train in the subway station at Clark and Division streets. The rest of the book is Aki trying to find out if her sister had committed suicide - the official determination - or had been murdered. We meet lots of people, most of whom have backstories, and the plot lurches on, fitfully, til we reach the end of the book. The book isn’t bad - remember the 3 star rating - but never exactly captured my interest. It is one of those books that lots of readers liked a lot (see all the 4 and 5 star ratings) but others just couldn’t catch the magic. I’d advise reading the positive reviews before you decide to buy the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    Not for me. I am from the Chicago area, so the setting of the book — eponymous title, Clark and Division, are streets in Chicago — attracted me to it. The mystery novel had its time period as shortly before and after the US entered World War Two in which Japanese Americans were interred in camps in California and then some of them relocated to Chicago. Rose Ito and her family from Los Angeles are first interred in a nearby camp and then are to be re-located to Chicago. Rose leaves first for Chic Not for me. I am from the Chicago area, so the setting of the book — eponymous title, Clark and Division, are streets in Chicago — attracted me to it. The mystery novel had its time period as shortly before and after the US entered World War Two in which Japanese Americans were interred in camps in California and then some of them relocated to Chicago. Rose Ito and her family from Los Angeles are first interred in a nearby camp and then are to be re-located to Chicago. Rose leaves first for Chicago and finds a job and is living in an apartment with several other young Japanese women. When her family arrives in Chicago by train, they find out that Rose is dead. An apparent suicide, jumping in front of a subway train. Was it? Her sister, Aki, is not convinced it was a suicide and spends the rest of the mystery novel finding out what happened to her sister. It was just okay with me. The writing reminded me of something for young adults (YA)…not a complicated word in sight. It seemed like there was a ton of filler in this book. And the ending was disappointing…I think the hallmark of a good mystery is that the suspense builds and builds until the final act. It was sort of confusing as to when the final act occurred… Published in 2021, she in Acknowledgment section makes reference to the pandemic. In the book she makes reference to Hyde Park High School. This is where my mom went to high school, so I liked that. Reviews: • 6 reviews here at one site cuz it supplies links to the different reviews … All Book Marks reviews for Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara Book Marks • https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book... • https://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Shindler

    When I was in my first year of college in California, one of my housemates, a graduate student, casually mentioned that he had been sent to a Japanese detention center during World War Two. He briefly elaborated and then shut down.I was stunned.I was new to California and had never heard anything about these camps.I was also surprised because my university was a hotbed of political ferment and no mention was made of the forced detention of 120,000 Japanese American citizens.It was as if a veil o When I was in my first year of college in California, one of my housemates, a graduate student, casually mentioned that he had been sent to a Japanese detention center during World War Two. He briefly elaborated and then shut down.I was stunned.I was new to California and had never heard anything about these camps.I was also surprised because my university was a hotbed of political ferment and no mention was made of the forced detention of 120,000 Japanese American citizens.It was as if a veil of silence had obliterated this shameful part of the war years.Naomi Hirahara’s novel gives voice to a community’s generational trauma. We first meet the Ito family before World War Two.They live in Tropico, in Southern California.They are successful citizens within a stable Japanese American enclave. The father manages a produce market and is assisted by his wife and two daughters, Rose and Aki.After Pearl Harbor, the family is relocated to the Manzanar detention camp in California. These first sections of the novel depict the sense of community before the relocation and heartbreakingly portray the erosion of self worth and purpose brought about by the displacement. The emotional heartbeat of this book begins with the aftermath of the detainees’ release from the camps.Many Japanese who were deemed non threatening were released in 1943 and relocated to other parts of the country.Rose is the first of the family to be relocated and is sent to Chicago.She has found employment and the rest of the family is set to join her.Upon arriving in Chicago, they learn that Rose has jumped from an elevated train platform and has died.Her sister Aki does not believe that Rose would ever take her own life and devotes herself to discovering all facets of Rose’s life in Chicago, hoping to make sense of this seemingly incomprehensible tragedy. Aki’s inquiries unfold the mystery of Rose’s death.At the same time, these efforts reveal a collective communal reaction to the trauma , betrayal and displacement that Japanese Americans have experienced.How can one reintegrate into the political, moral and social life of a nation after an unjust confinement? Aki searches for answers within her ethnic enclave of Clark and Division as well as seeking out solutions outside her immediate area.In seeking answers to her sister’s tragedy, Aki gradually confronts her own simmering reactions to the shock of displacement and overt racism.Ultimately, her quest becomes a journey of reconciliation and understanding that provides insight into an ugly period of American history that has not always been readily acknowledged.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wolak

    I devoured this novel! Clark and Division is the best sort of historical mystery, one that teaches and makes you think as it entertains. The mystery is unique and solidly plotted with characters that I could see walking around in their city setting. Longer review on my blog: https://chriswolak.com/2021/08/03/cla... I devoured this novel! Clark and Division is the best sort of historical mystery, one that teaches and makes you think as it entertains. The mystery is unique and solidly plotted with characters that I could see walking around in their city setting. Longer review on my blog: https://chriswolak.com/2021/08/03/cla...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Clark and Division tells the story of Aki Ito and her life after being released from Manzanar in 1944. I was unaware that many Japanese people were released prior to the end of the war because of the need for cheap labor. Aki and her parents were sent to Chicago. Her sister Rose had traveled a few months earlier to find an apartment for the family. Upon their arrival in Chicago, Aki and her family are told that Rose had been killed by a train and it was suicide. Aki refuses to believe her sister Clark and Division tells the story of Aki Ito and her life after being released from Manzanar in 1944. I was unaware that many Japanese people were released prior to the end of the war because of the need for cheap labor. Aki and her parents were sent to Chicago. Her sister Rose had traveled a few months earlier to find an apartment for the family. Upon their arrival in Chicago, Aki and her family are told that Rose had been killed by a train and it was suicide. Aki refuses to believe her sister would kill herself and starts to investigate what had been going on in Rose’s life. The two things I liked best in this book were the descriptions of life in 1944 Chicago and the details of life as a Japanese-American. Aki goes to work at the Newbery Library and makes friends and continues to investigate her sister’s death. I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I wish there had been more plot lines than her sister’s death, but it was a quick, enjoyable read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I loved the idea of this (mystery set in the Japanese-American community in Chicago in the waning days of WWII, following a family relocated after two years in an interment camp) but found it pretty meh in execution. Too much of the description reads as “I did my research about Chicago in 1944; here is what was at that intersection.” There’s a whole section at the beginning about the family’s time in Manzanar that read like an author or editor who felt they they needed to hold the reader’s hand I loved the idea of this (mystery set in the Japanese-American community in Chicago in the waning days of WWII, following a family relocated after two years in an interment camp) but found it pretty meh in execution. Too much of the description reads as “I did my research about Chicago in 1944; here is what was at that intersection.” There’s a whole section at the beginning about the family’s time in Manzanar that read like an author or editor who felt they they needed to hold the reader’s hand through the history, rather than weaving it in. I like my mysteries heavy on atmosphere and character; this was light on both. The plot was interesting, though, and I did like the details of life in Chicago in 1944, even if they felt occasionally like a book report instead of novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sue Davis

    Not so much a mystery as a portrait of life in the concentration camps and life after relocation to Chicago. Segregation, racism, and discrimination, as well as poverty and horrible living conditions

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert Intriago

    There are two similarities between this book and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”. One is the similarities in the title of the books as they both refer to a location in Seattle and Chicago. The second is the fact that both deal with the treatment of Japanese during WW II. That is where the similarities end. This book is far superior and captivating. The Ito family lives in SouthernCalifornia when Pearl Harbor occurs. They are interred in the Manzanitas camp. Since the daughters, Rose an There are two similarities between this book and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”. One is the similarities in the title of the books as they both refer to a location in Seattle and Chicago. The second is the fact that both deal with the treatment of Japanese during WW II. That is where the similarities end. This book is far superior and captivating. The Ito family lives in SouthernCalifornia when Pearl Harbor occurs. They are interred in the Manzanitas camp. Since the daughters, Rose and Aki, were born in America they are allowed to relocate to Chicago. Rose departs first to secure lodgings in their new city with the rest of the family to follow. The Ito family arrives in Chicago and finds out that Rose has died as a result of an accident. Aki is not satisfied with the manner of Rose’s death and she decides to investigate. A well written book with a couple of very good characters. The historical fiction about the Japanese treatment is poignant and insightful. The only thing I had trouble with was the large numbers of characters with Japanese names. It made it hard to keep track of all of them. The ending was a little disappointing as the build up to it was enthralling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    I was surprised how much I liked this book, mainly because I haven't seen any hype or buzz about it. The story really drew me in. I stayed up late to finish. I rarely need to forgo sleep in order to find out what happened, but, in this case I *had* to know. Clark and Division is meticulously researched historical fiction, wrapped around a central mystery: Mystorical Fiction, if you will. The Japanese American experience during WWII is an underrepresented topic. Lord knows, I've already read tons I was surprised how much I liked this book, mainly because I haven't seen any hype or buzz about it. The story really drew me in. I stayed up late to finish. I rarely need to forgo sleep in order to find out what happened, but, in this case I *had* to know. Clark and Division is meticulously researched historical fiction, wrapped around a central mystery: Mystorical Fiction, if you will. The Japanese American experience during WWII is an underrepresented topic. Lord knows, I've already read tons of historical fiction based on the war in Europe. This subject is refreshing, also painful and anxiety-inducing at times, but also important.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Naomi Hirahara's Clark and Division provides an excellent read in terms of its success as a mystery novel and in terms of the time period and community it takes readers to: World War II Chicago, where Japanese-American families who were held in West Coast concentration camps are being relocated. I've read a number of books dealing with life in the camps and afterward, but they've all been set on the West Coast with characters returning to areas they're familiar with. Clark and Division opens befo Naomi Hirahara's Clark and Division provides an excellent read in terms of its success as a mystery novel and in terms of the time period and community it takes readers to: World War II Chicago, where Japanese-American families who were held in West Coast concentration camps are being relocated. I've read a number of books dealing with life in the camps and afterward, but they've all been set on the West Coast with characters returning to areas they're familiar with. Clark and Division opens before Pearl Harbor, before the camps have been established. Aki Ito contentedly lives in the shadow of her older sister Rose, who is brilliant, charismatic, and fierce in pursuing what she feels is right, whether or not it's easy. After Pearl Harbor, the family are relocated to Manzanar, then later to Chicago. Rose heads to Chicago first, part of a group of carefully selected Neisi. When the rest of the Ito family arrive, they learn that Rose is dead, having committed suicide by throwing herself onto the subway tracks. Aki can't accept that her sister would choose to end her life, so she begins investigating the story of Rose's time in Chicago. In the process, Aki explores the complexities of the city's Japanese-American neighborhood. Aki quickly finding work at the Newberry Library and her community expands to include two of her coworkers: one Black, the other Polish-American. These two story lines—Aki's investigation of her sister's death and her experience carving out a life for herself in a new city—propel the novel forward. If you enjoy character-driven fiction, whether or not it fits into the mystery genre, you'll find yourself quickly immersed in Clark and Division. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    3 no 7

    I listened to this book, and the narration was compelling. Well worth the time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Berlin

    Aki Ito and her family have been in a Japanese incarceration camp in California since shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed. When the Ito’s are forced to resettle in Chicago in 1944, Aki’s outgoing, vibrant sister, Rose, is sent to the city a few months before the rest of the family arrives. When Aki and her parents arrive, they are horrified to hear that Rose killed herself jumping off the platform in front of an underground subway train in the Chicago Gold Coast neighborhood at the Clark & Div Aki Ito and her family have been in a Japanese incarceration camp in California since shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed. When the Ito’s are forced to resettle in Chicago in 1944, Aki’s outgoing, vibrant sister, Rose, is sent to the city a few months before the rest of the family arrives. When Aki and her parents arrive, they are horrified to hear that Rose killed herself jumping off the platform in front of an underground subway train in the Chicago Gold Coast neighborhood at the Clark & Division stop. Aki who worshipped her sister, refuses to believe that her sister would commit suicide and starts to investigate on what happened. The book seems a combination of Historical Fiction, Mystery, and Love story. The first 1/3 of the book was interesting and I really wanted to know what happened to Rose. As it went along the mystery was less suspenseful and seemed to play out very conveniently for the main character, Aki. I have nothing but compassion for many dignified, Japanese Americans who lost their homes, businesses, and had their lives interrupted after Pearl Harbor Day, but it does not mean I have to like this book. I found our heroine Aki, just to good to be true. She is better than Sherlock Holmes and Columbo combined. She is always proper, can break through bureaucracy, fits in anywhere and right away. Finds a good job rather easily. People act like they have known her for years. She falls in love. Her new potential in-laws love her. Even though she says she is devastated by Rose’s death, she does not seem tormented at all. Maybe that is why her clueless fiancé seems to have no idea on the hardship her only sister’s recent death has had on her. Rose was the only interesting character in this story, and she is dead. The parents throughout this story are just background, almost invisible characters. Never seeming to have much of an idea of what Aki is doing. The side characters are cardboard cutouts and there are many. Everyone is referred to as Nisei, (Parents born in Japan) Issei, (Japanese born) or Hakujin (a white person) Outside of that, and their relation to Aki, that is all you know about them. For a book about Japanese internment camps, racism, rape, murder, and abortion, this came off as a very light read. The mystery was not much of a mystery, and after a long build up, there was not much suspense. The love story flattened. From a historical fiction perspective, I kept reading other reviews about the great research that was done. Anybody who has been to Chicago can tell that the Aragon, Clark and Division L stop, Newberry library, and Art Institute are Chicago landmarks. Is it really that remarkable that the author knew of these landmarks or where Japanese Americans went in Chicago during the 1940s? There is mention of Nisei being drafted and in a segregated military during WW2, but no mention of any of the Issei characters having family in Japan fighting for the Japanese. That would have been interesting to read, on what their take on it was. I know during WW2 there were many German Americans who were celebrating Germany’s early victories during the war. A side from a black character, and something tells me that even during WW2, black population had it rougher, there is no mention of any hakujin (white person) having any loved ones fighting in WW2. I wish Clark and Division didn’t start out so well, because I had to labor through the second half to finish it. If the beginning was as bad as the second half, I would have just given up early and move on. But no, I felt compelled to be an oddball, and write a much-needed bad review. The story to me was not very believable and everything seems too convenient and ties up nicely for Aki.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kim Fay

    I love advance copies of books. As a lifelong reader, and as a former indie bookseller, it always excites me when I get to be an "insider." Better yet - when the book is terrific. I've long been a fan of Naomi Hirahara. It think her Mas Arai series is exquisite with insight and subtlety. Clark and Division has the insights, but the story isn't subtle - nor should it be. Too little has been written for mainstream audiences about the imprisonment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. Mos I love advance copies of books. As a lifelong reader, and as a former indie bookseller, it always excites me when I get to be an "insider." Better yet - when the book is terrific. I've long been a fan of Naomi Hirahara. It think her Mas Arai series is exquisite with insight and subtlety. Clark and Division has the insights, but the story isn't subtle - nor should it be. Too little has been written for mainstream audiences about the imprisonment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. Most of us read Farewell to Manzanar in school at some point; and that was enough, as far as our educators were concerned. It wasn't. Because this story is so complex. I'm not talking about what the government did. That was woefully straightforward. But the way the Japanese community lived, existed, and rebuilt itself both in and out of the prison camps is multi-layered. In this case, the story focuses on those people who were allowed to leave the camps during the war so long as they relocated to the Midwest, where they couldn't easily serve as spies for Japan. Yes, this is a crime novel, but the crime is a tool Hirahara uses to explore family, displacement, race, love, identity, and so much more. As always with her novels, she doesn't go for mega-drama. But that gives the story a kind of weight that propels it from entertainment (it is a page-turner) to essential reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    How very sneaky of Ms. Hirahara to disguise a Girl Book under a pile of deceptively simple language and fascinating period detail! Ms. Hirahara's narrator, Aki, is a 20-year-old Nisei girl whose family moves from a Japanese internment camp to Chicago in 1944. I'm already fascinated. But add in the fact that Aki, unlike 99% of the narrators in thrillers, has no literary background or aspirations at all and expresses herself in some of the least stylized, most un-writerly prose I've ever read, and How very sneaky of Ms. Hirahara to disguise a Girl Book under a pile of deceptively simple language and fascinating period detail! Ms. Hirahara's narrator, Aki, is a 20-year-old Nisei girl whose family moves from a Japanese internment camp to Chicago in 1944. I'm already fascinated. But add in the fact that Aki, unlike 99% of the narrators in thrillers, has no literary background or aspirations at all and expresses herself in some of the least stylized, most un-writerly prose I've ever read, and I'm gobsmacked. When Aki's family arrives in Chicago, they learn that their oldest daughter, Rose, died when she apparently jumped in front of a train at the eponymous subway station. If you're guessing that plucky Aki doesn't believe that Rose committed suicide and starts investigating her murder, well . . . congratulations, you're read at least one other mystery in your life. Still, the plot is so devoid of the stereotypical twists and reversals that I couldn't predict what was going to happen. (Ironic, huh?) So if it isn't the most original premise ever concocted, it's delivered in one of the most original ways I've ever read, so highly recommended.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lian Dolan

    This is a special book, a hybrid of historical fiction and mystery that shines a light on a sliver of American history that has stayed dark for too long, the relocation of Japanese Americans from the internment camps in California and the West to Chicago. Author Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award winning mystery author, but Clark & Division is a step forward in her writing. She takes a deeply troubling moment in history and skillfully creates characters to tell that story in a human and humane way This is a special book, a hybrid of historical fiction and mystery that shines a light on a sliver of American history that has stayed dark for too long, the relocation of Japanese Americans from the internment camps in California and the West to Chicago. Author Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award winning mystery author, but Clark & Division is a step forward in her writing. She takes a deeply troubling moment in history and skillfully creates characters to tell that story in a human and humane way. This is a story about two sister, separated by tragedy, the long effects of war, racism, sexual assault and forced assimilation . Highly recommend. We will be talking to Naomi about this work in July.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    I don't know if I was the target audience for this mystery. I liked the main character but I found this mystery to be very slow, a little too slow for me, but that's on me. I don't know if I was the target audience for this mystery. I liked the main character but I found this mystery to be very slow, a little too slow for me, but that's on me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    4.5 stars rounded down. A very enjoyable mystery, and I learned a lot about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and their lives on being released from the concentration camps. The story centers around the Ito family. When it starts, the parents, both Issei (immigrant Japanese) and their teen-aged Nisei daughters, Rose and Aki, live in Tropico, which was a suburb of Los Angeles. The father is the manager of a major produce market. When Japan attackes Pearl Harbor, the afterma 4.5 stars rounded down. A very enjoyable mystery, and I learned a lot about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and their lives on being released from the concentration camps. The story centers around the Ito family. When it starts, the parents, both Issei (immigrant Japanese) and their teen-aged Nisei daughters, Rose and Aki, live in Tropico, which was a suburb of Los Angeles. The father is the manager of a major produce market. When Japan attackes Pearl Harbor, the aftermath for them is internment at Manzanar in the hot and desert Owens Valley, where living conditions are extremely difficult. But the eldest daughter, Rose, is able to secure her release from the camp and move to Chicago. Eventually, she is able to secure the release of her parents and sister and bring them to Chicago, but when they arrive, they discover that Rose is dead. Aki takes on the mission of discovering everything she can about Rose's death, while starting a new life in Chicago in an apartment with her parents near the intersection of Clark and Division, not a particularly savory area. She meets hakujin (white people), Issei, Nisei, Black people, and learns more than she ever wanted to know about life for Japanese Americans in Chicago during World War II. The main characters are quite engaging and well drawn and the plot moves. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    this is the story of a young Japanese American woman whose family is forced from their home in LA during WWII. After spending time in an internment camp, her sister Rose is sent to Chicago ahead of the rest of the family. Rose dies after falling onto the El tracks shortly before the rest of her family joins her in Chicago. The death is ruled a suicide but sister Aki doesn't believe it and sets out to investigate what happened to her sister. The premise of this story is intriguing- I"m from Chica this is the story of a young Japanese American woman whose family is forced from their home in LA during WWII. After spending time in an internment camp, her sister Rose is sent to Chicago ahead of the rest of the family. Rose dies after falling onto the El tracks shortly before the rest of her family joins her in Chicago. The death is ruled a suicide but sister Aki doesn't believe it and sets out to investigate what happened to her sister. The premise of this story is intriguing- I"m from Chicago but did not know how many Japanese were sent here during WWII. And the mystery of Rose's death added another interesting element. But I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I just did not like the author's writing style. The first person narrative sounded childish to me. But it gets 3 stars for the story line.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Weak plot, insipid characters, Clark and Division is about a family relocated from Manzanar, a detention camp in California, to a Japanese neighborhood in Chicago near Clark and Division Streets during World War II. The writing was mediocre at best and so was the "mystery" surrounding the elder sister who somehow wound up dead on the Chicago subway tracks. When an autopsy revealed that Rose had had an abortion prior to her death, which had been ruled a suicide, her younger sister Aki is determin Weak plot, insipid characters, Clark and Division is about a family relocated from Manzanar, a detention camp in California, to a Japanese neighborhood in Chicago near Clark and Division Streets during World War II. The writing was mediocre at best and so was the "mystery" surrounding the elder sister who somehow wound up dead on the Chicago subway tracks. When an autopsy revealed that Rose had had an abortion prior to her death, which had been ruled a suicide, her younger sister Aki is determined to find out what really happened to her beloved sister. 2.5 stars for historical background

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality This story is a reminder that, for all its midwestern friendliness, Chicago is still as Carl Sandburg so famously put it, the “City of the Big Shoulders”, and it can turn a cold, cold heart towards anyone it deems an outsider. It’s why Chicago, to this day, is considered one of the most segregated cities in the U.S., along with the New York City/North Jersey/Long Island metroplex, Milwaukee (which is close to becoming part of greater Chicagoland every day) Originally published at Reading Reality This story is a reminder that, for all its midwestern friendliness, Chicago is still as Carl Sandburg so famously put it, the “City of the Big Shoulders”, and it can turn a cold, cold heart towards anyone it deems an outsider. It’s why Chicago, to this day, is considered one of the most segregated cities in the U.S., along with the New York City/North Jersey/Long Island metroplex, Milwaukee (which is close to becoming part of greater Chicagoland every day) and Detroit. The biggest part of this story is about the Japanese-American experience in Chicago during World War II, as seen through the eyes of Aki Ito, a young Nisei woman from California by way of the Manzanar Relocation Center (read as political double-speak for concentration camp) who arrives in Chicago in 1944 with her parents to discover that her older sister Rose died the day before, crushed under the wheels of one of Chicago’s famous “El” trains. Rose’s death is ruled as a suicide, but Aki is determined to prove that her idolized older sister was murdered. But Clark and Division is not a murder mystery, although it is being promoted that way. And not that there isn’t something to investigate in Rose Ito’s death. But Aki doesn’t so much investigate as obsess and flail around. Rose’s death drives Aki, but the investigation of it does not drive the story. What does drive this story is Aki’s exploration of and adaptation to a city that does not want either her or her people to become part of it. Except that they are and they have, and Aki’s journey is to discover herself and how she fits into both her own community and this strange and unwelcoming place as she learns to live her life out from under her sister’s long and rather brilliant shadow. Escape Rating B: It’s hard to figure out where to start with this one, because there were so many interesting parts to this story, but none of them quite gelled into a whole. Or at least not into the whole that I was expecting. Which means I ended up with a ton of mixed feelings about this book, because I wanted to like it and get wrapped up in it way more than I did. One of the reasons the whole is not greater than the sum of its interesting parts is that there is so much that happens before Aki gets to Chicago, and there’s not enough time or space to go into any of it in nearly enough detail. That the story begins with Aki’s childhood in Tropico, California, where her father is successful and respected is a necessary grounding because it makes the transition to Manzanar and the later move north to Chicago and down the socioeconomic scale all that much more traumatic. But we don’t get enough depth in either of those parts of the story so it compresses the time we have with Aki in Chicago where the mystery is. Also, the story is told from Aki’s first person perspective and it all feels a bit shallow. Not that she’s shallow – or at least no more shallow than any other woman her age – but rather that we only skim the surface of her thoughts and feelings. Too much of what happens to her in Chicago reads like more of a recitation of what she did than an in-depth exploration of what she thought and felt. Although I certainly enjoyed Aki’s description of working for Chicago’s famous Newberry Library in the 1940s. The portrait drawn of the Japanese-American community in Chicago during the war years, along with the crimes, both to her sister and to her community, that Aki looks into/flails around at are based on historical events, but the story isn’t enough about those crimes to fit this into the true crime genre, either. Although the parts of the story that wrapped around the history of Chicago were fascinating and I wish the story had gotten into more depth there. And that may sum up my feelings about this book the best. I wish there had been more depth to the fascinating parts. There are clearly entire libraries of stories that could flesh out this piece of forgotten (willfully forgotten in the case of the “relocation centers”) history. I just wish this had one of them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    J.

    There is so much I did not know about the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In this book I learned more. This tale is about the "American Born Japanese" who were released from internment camps and sent to work in the mid-west. Rose Ito, the girl everyone wishes they could be, is sent to Chicago in 1944 where there is a bustling community of people relocated from the camps. Rose is to find a job and prepare for the arrival of her parents and younger sister, Aki. Rose's sister Aki anxio There is so much I did not know about the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In this book I learned more. This tale is about the "American Born Japanese" who were released from internment camps and sent to work in the mid-west. Rose Ito, the girl everyone wishes they could be, is sent to Chicago in 1944 where there is a bustling community of people relocated from the camps. Rose is to find a job and prepare for the arrival of her parents and younger sister, Aki. Rose's sister Aki anxiously awaits the family's reunion in Chicago. When they arrive, instead of being greeted by Rose they are told of her death. There follows the story of the family's adjustment to this new world and Aki's search for the truth about Rose's final days and death. As usual, Naomi Hirahara has woven a rich and intricate tale of character, relationships and society. Thank you for another fine book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This book is a knockout. Hirahara, author of three different series set in contemporary Los Angeles and Hawaii, has turned her eye to 1944 and the plight of American born Japanese, as well as first generation immigrants, right after Pearl Harbor. It is still shocking to me that we created internment camps for Japanese citizens who were simply going about their daily lives. Hirahara brings it home by focusing intimately on one family, the Itos. The Itos – parents and daughters Rose and Aki – are h This book is a knockout. Hirahara, author of three different series set in contemporary Los Angeles and Hawaii, has turned her eye to 1944 and the plight of American born Japanese, as well as first generation immigrants, right after Pearl Harbor. It is still shocking to me that we created internment camps for Japanese citizens who were simply going about their daily lives. Hirahara brings it home by focusing intimately on one family, the Itos. The Itos – parents and daughters Rose and Aki – are hardworking, successful citizens. Mr. Ito manages a produce market and Rose and eventually Aki work there too. Rose is the star, the center of the family. Aki looks up to her and wishes she had her strength. This book could simply be the story of Aki discovering that strength in herself, but it is so much more. One day the Itos are ordered to report to a camp where they will spend the next two years, sharing a room and a communal toilet that offers no privacy. One of the more heartbreaking things in this book is the slow decline and implosion of Mr. Ito, who, deprived of work and freedom, begins to drink heavily. Mr. Ito’s situation is not front and center but it’s a heartbreaking through line that subtly illustrates the cruelty of the situation. After a few years, the government begins to resettle Japanese all over the country, taking them from their familiar homes and plunging them into completely unfamiliar environments with instructions for not more than 3 to gather at one time. Rose, the beautiful star of the family, goes on ahead to Chicago, and eventually, the rest of the family will be able to follow her. The day finally comes and the Itos head to Chicago, relishing the freedom of the train after being in camp for so long. When they get to Chicago, it’s dirty, noisy and confusing, and worst of all, when they arrive at the apartment Rose has found for them, they discover that she has died in a subway accident the night before. Aki makes it her mission to discover everything she can about Rose’s life in Chicago, talking to her roommates, going to the police department to retrieve her belongings, arranging a funeral and visiting her ashes, and delving deep into her sister’s diary as she knows in her heart that her beautiful Rose would never have taken her own life. Aki’s journey to find out what happened to Rose mirrors her journey of growth as she becomes more confident and stronger, forcing herself into situations she would otherwise have avoided. She finds her voice. She and her parents find jobs – she ends up working at the iconic Newberry Library – and she finds a suitor, Art, whose family is well established in Chicago. While the main part of the story – and it’s beautifully told and rendered, and utterly heartbreaking – is the story of the family being sent to the internment camp and then resettled in a foreign place, it’s also the story of Aki. This intimacy with the character as a reader makes you experience, along with Aki, what’s happening, almost in real time. This is a completely immersive reading experience and a completely unforgettable one. This is a shameful part of our history which Hirahara has turned a light on, but by giving the reader the gift of the Ito family, she provides some light and hope in the darkness. This is a beautiful book, and one of the reads of the year.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    This book expands the tragedy of the WWII interment of Japanese-Americans to their lives after they were released from the camps and sent, not back to their homes, but to places where they had no family, friends or community connections. Aki Ito and her parents arrive in Chicago from Manzanar to join her sister Rose who was sent there a few months earlier, only to learn that Rose is dead, hit by a train at the Clark and Division station. The coroner says it was suicide but Aki doesn't believe it This book expands the tragedy of the WWII interment of Japanese-Americans to their lives after they were released from the camps and sent, not back to their homes, but to places where they had no family, friends or community connections. Aki Ito and her parents arrive in Chicago from Manzanar to join her sister Rose who was sent there a few months earlier, only to learn that Rose is dead, hit by a train at the Clark and Division station. The coroner says it was suicide but Aki doesn't believe it and sets out to discover the truth. This would make a good companion read with Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II. Thanks to Soho Crime and NetGalley for the eARC.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    This story takes place in Chicago just after the U.S. entered WWII. The Ito family has been relocated there from Manzanar, one of the Japanese concentration camps. The family originally lived in Los Angeles. The beginning of the book is the better part of the story—more nuanced and the characters’ experience in Manzanar was thoughtfully described. However, once the family comes to Chicago to join their daughter, Rose, who went before the rest of the family, the story becomes stilted, the dialogu This story takes place in Chicago just after the U.S. entered WWII. The Ito family has been relocated there from Manzanar, one of the Japanese concentration camps. The family originally lived in Los Angeles. The beginning of the book is the better part of the story—more nuanced and the characters’ experience in Manzanar was thoughtfully described. However, once the family comes to Chicago to join their daughter, Rose, who went before the rest of the family, the story becomes stilted, the dialogue doesn’t ring true and the resolution of Rose’s death is not very satisfying. The main character, Rose’s sister Aki, is obsessed with getting more information about Rose and intent on proving her death was not a suicide. She puts herself and friends in unbelievably dangerous situations. The relationship she develops with a young man (before he’s drafted and leaves for basic training) first feels like a school girl crush and then feels like something you would see on an afternoon soap opera (if there were still afternoon soap operas)—not much “there” there.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rita Aksamit

    I expected to like this more than I did. It is set in WWII and deals with the evacuation of Japanese from California to resettlement camps and eventually to Chicago. The book, while seeming to be historical fiction, ultimately wound up a mystery involving the murder of the sister of the main character.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hpnyknits

    This was Nancy Drew set in 1944 with 2021 gusto. I found this book to be very uneven. The characters were not realistic for the period. Aki was not a believable character. The circumstances were intriguing and the sister’s story was interesting. The historical background of resettlement of Japanese Americans and the difficulties they faced was illuminating. But I thought the author wanted to get to Chicago and rushed over the loss from LA and the camps.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Heitzman

    Aki Ito has just moved to Chicago with her parents. They have just been allowed to leave a Japanese internment camp during WWII to join Aki's sister, Rose. Before their arrival, Rose is found dead under a subway train. Aki is convinced that Rose was murdered. Aki is a little too good. She is hard working and unaware of her beauty. The book is part mystery, part coming of age, part romance. The best part is the historical detail and the setting--1940's Chicago. Who knew there was a thriving Japan Aki Ito has just moved to Chicago with her parents. They have just been allowed to leave a Japanese internment camp during WWII to join Aki's sister, Rose. Before their arrival, Rose is found dead under a subway train. Aki is convinced that Rose was murdered. Aki is a little too good. She is hard working and unaware of her beauty. The book is part mystery, part coming of age, part romance. The best part is the historical detail and the setting--1940's Chicago. Who knew there was a thriving Japanese community at Clark and Division

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This book was recommended reading by our newspaper, and perhaps I had higher hopes than warranted, but it really fell flat for me. I did not connect with the characters, nor did I feel that the author did a good job of really portraying the heartbreak that was Japanese interment during WWII. I didn't think that the writing was rich and nuanced, and I found the plot line to be sparse and a bit boring. This novel dragged for me. This book was recommended reading by our newspaper, and perhaps I had higher hopes than warranted, but it really fell flat for me. I did not connect with the characters, nor did I feel that the author did a good job of really portraying the heartbreak that was Japanese interment during WWII. I didn't think that the writing was rich and nuanced, and I found the plot line to be sparse and a bit boring. This novel dragged for me.

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