Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Genre: YA historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the library
Audiobook reader: Elaina Erika Davis
First line: My sister, Lynn, taught me my first word: kira-kira.
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata won the Newbery Medal in 2005, and the award was well-deserved. This is the story of Katie, the child of Japanese immigrants, growing up in the 1950s. Katie’s best friend is her older sister Lynn. Lynn’s guidance and care help Katie through a move from Iowa to Georgia, through the days of her parents working long, exhausting hours at a chicken hatchery, and through the adjustment to a baby brother. When Lynn gets sick, though, it’s Katie’s turn to take care of her.
Kadohata has written a wonderfully simple story of a family, and yet within that simple story are themes like prejudice, workers’ rights, grief, parenting, and honor. I haven’t read much Japanese-American literature, but I was fascinated by the story of these parents trying to make a better life for their kids. My daughter Natalie read both Kira-Kira and Weedflower by Kadohata, and told me I should read them. She was right; I would not want to have missed out on this story. I will listen to Weedflower soon.