Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata

Kira-Kira. By Cynthia Kadohata.  Atheneum, 2006.  272 pages. $16.95

Plot: Kira-kira — Japanese for glittering, shining, the way the world feels to Katie when her sister Lynn is with her.  It is the 1950’s and Katie is just 5 when her family moves from Iowa to Georgia, where there are fewer than 50 Japanese people in a town of over 4,000.  Lynn teaches Katie about the ways of the world, the beauty of the sky and how to do her darn math homework.  You see, Lynn is a genius, and, not only that, she loves Katie more than anything else in the whole world, and Katie feel the same about Lynn.  Life is challenging in Georgia; Katie’s parents work so hard she misses seeing them, and she and Lynn do a lot of the caretaking of their beloved little brother, Sammy.  But things are going along all right, her parents are even saving up to buy their very own house, until Lynn get sick.  Then there’s a shift, and Katie’s world gets turned around.  Will they be able to buy the house?  Will Lynn get better?  What will happen to Katie’s family?

Review: The love demonstrated and portrayed in the novel is exquisite.  Katie’s family members love and care for each other deeply.  This is part of what makes this story so compelling, and so very beautiful.  The writing is exact and purposeful and the author weaves in bits of Japanese culture in a decidedly American setting, contributing to the richness and authenticity of the novel.  A moving, inspiring story of good times, hard times, hope, and inner strength.

Genre(s): Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction

Reading/Interest Level: 9-14 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0689856402

Similar Books: The Higher Power of Lucky; Maniac McGee; Bud, Not Buddy; Bat 6

Subjects: family, love, illness, discrimination, racism, union organizing, poverty

Selected Awards: 2005 Newberry Medal, 2005 ALA Notable Children’s Books

Character Names:

Katie: main character, the book is told from her perspective, younger sister of Lynn, older sister to Sammy, loving, not a great student, thoughtful, kind, a bit mischievous, loved

Lynn: Older sister to both Katie and Sammy, loving caregiver to her siblings, has a special bond with Katie and teachers things and take an almost parental role in Katie’s upbringing

Sammy: youngest child of the family, much loved by all, sweet and easy going

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