Hirahara creates a vibrant cast and setting, allowing the reader insight into this time period ... Hirahara gives us a rich and vibrant portrayal of Nisei life in multicultural Chicago: the nightclubs, the hoodlums, the young people looking for connection, looking for their place in a world that up until previously had not merely excluded them but incarcerated them ... The title comes from Rose’s neighborhood, populated by young men and women similar to her—a neighborhood not presented in the media of that time, a history walled off, erased, which makes Hirahara’s depiction additionally powerful, compelling, and important ... There is an added poignancy reading this novel alongside the news of current anti-Asian hate crimes. The complicated legacy of this country is just beneath the veneer. Yet this is far from a didactic polemic. Mystery novelists, particularly those of color, weave the threads of social injustice into their writing by the very nature of their life experience. Often mysteries pull the reader along with the addictive whodunit question, and our need to know the answer. Clark and Division definitely engages the reader on that level. But even more importantly, it is Aki, the young protagonist, with her shifting family dynamics, the challenging world of Chicago, and her ability and attempt to navigate this new world with its upheaval of emotions, who keeps us compulsively reading, wanting to know her life, her fate.
... is as much about communal trauma as it is about the anguish of the Ito family, who are at the story’s center. The grief of the Japanese community in Chicago infuses the atmosphere of this novel, offering a compelling, nuanced tale of loss.
... provocative ... Although [Hirahara] skillfully integrated historical events in many of her previous titles, her 10th novel incorporates three decades of researching and collecting the oral histories of Americans imprisoned for being of Japanese heritage ... While Clark and Division is currently a standalone endeavor, Aki Ito shows plenty of intriguing tenacity to star in a series of her own. Readers are sure to agree.
The treatment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II comes to life in this mystery ... Hirahara does a masterly job of incorporating extensive historical research into an emotionally compelling story. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy high-quality historical fiction with well-drawn characters and an engrossing plot.
... deeply researched ... Hirahara peppers the mystery with a detail-rich portrait of Chicago during the war and of newly arrived Japanese Americans trying to negotiate a largely hostile new world. This works fine as an amateur-sleuth mystery, but it’s the vibrant historical background that makes the novel special.
... fascinating ... Tantalizing clues emerge in Rose’s diary, in reports gathered for the War Relocation Authority, and in Aki’s tireless interviews with those who shaped Rose’s life in Chicago. Elegant prose matches the meticulous research. This well-crafted tale of injustice isn’t just for mystery fans.