Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Holly Thompson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 978-0385739771
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Kana is being sent into exile for the summer. So are all of her friends. Though few people are saying it aloud, adults and peers hold them at least partially responsible for the suicide of their classmate, who was ostracized and bullied by the clique's queen bee. In the quiet and isolation of her grandmother's mikan orange groves in rural Japan, Kana's mother hopes she will reflect upon and recover from the shock. Of course, there are a few shocks to deal with in her grandmother's house, too. For one thing, Kana isn't accustomed to the physical labor of the mikan groves; for another, her grandmother is determined to starve her wide Russian hips, a legacy from her Jewish father, down to an acceptable Japanese size. Most importantly, Kana is lonely, and she can't stop thinking about the suicide and her role in it.

Written in the form of fast-moving and accessible poetry, this verse novel provides an engaging response to the problems of bullying and adolescent mental illness. Kana is a reflective and often humorous narrator, and young readers will enjoy following her story as she adapts both to her mother's family and to the burden of her memories. While I found the ending to be unconvincing, perhaps a bit too neatly triumphant, I do expect that readers will like it, and will find much in the novel worthy of discussion.

Naomi Lesley   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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Delacorte Press

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