Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Displacement Book Poster Image
Moving tale of teen time traveler's trip to internment camp.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Displacement offers a historically accurate portrait of life in a Japanese internment camp in the United States during World War II. The fantasy elements do not detract from the realistic aspects of the tale. The Afterword explains Kiku's research into her history and what she learned about her grandmother's time as an internee.

Positive Messages

Through political solidarity, people can effect positive change. Racism, sexism, and xenophobia need to be opposed by all.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kiku is half-Japanese, but she at first does not feel connected to Asian culture. She comes to accept life in the camp, working hard, making friends, protecting others. She develops a romantic connection to a fellow female internee.


The level of violence is low. An internee is shot near the fence, but the death is not depicted.


Kiku and May are attracted to each other. They dance together, hold hands, and share a few kisses.


Japanese Americans are called "Japs."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Displacement  is a fact-based fantasy graphic novel, written and illustrated by Kiku Hughes, that depicts a contmporary American teen girl's mysterious, time-traveling trips from her home in San Francisco back to the camp where her grandmother was interned during World War II. It explores racism, xenophobia (fear of strangers or foreigners), and activism. Violence is limited to a fatal shooting, which is not depicted. Sexual content is limited to a few kisses and caresses between two teen girls. 

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What's the story?

As DISPLACEMENT begins, Kiku Hughes is somehow transported from the modern-day streets of San Francisco to an incarceration camp in 1942. Half-Japanese, Kiku has never paid a lot of attention to her heritage, but being a prisoner in the country she has always considered home causes her to re-evaluate her loyalties. She begins to make new friends and learns about political resistance. She even starts a low-key romance with another girl. What will Kiku do if she is trapped in this timeline forever?


Is it any good?

The internment of Japanese Americans is a national disgrace, and this subdued but moving time travel tale gives the subject its full due. Writer/illustrator Kiku Hughes uses her own family history in Displacement to support the story, giving the narrative extra weight. With a few simple expressions and gestures, she's able to convey a lot of emotion from her characters. Hughes focuses on the grace and grit of the internees, highlighting their individuality. Readers will find this an important graphic novel that has something new to say about a relevant and distressing subject.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Displacement portrays life in an internment camp during World War II. Why were white Americans so frightened by Japanese and Japanese American people after Pearl Harbor?

  • Do you think incarceration camps could ever be set up again in America? What might prevent their return?

  • What kinds of strategies can be used to combat injustice? Do peaceful protests work to change society?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and World War II stories

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