Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

somewhere among

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: YA lit, historical fiction, poetry

Synopsis: Half Japanese, half American Ema spends her summer in Japan in order to make sure her pregnant mother remains comfortable and happy.  As she’s spending time with her grandparents, she learns that a plane has flown into the Twin Towers, and must grieve across an entire ocean.

Review: Normally I don’t really enjoy thinking about or commemorating 9/11, and I think it’s because I was just too young to really understand it, and then grew up in a community who had a strange fascination to such a horrific attack.  So when I picked up this book, I was a little hesitant, but I found it beautiful and poignant, especially as Ema must deal with the 9/11 attack in a different country that was bombed by the United States 60 some years earlier.

Ema’s the only one in her class to stay at home after the attack, yet long distance lines are completely full of callers, hardly anybody is able to get into direct contact with their loved ones back in the United States, and Japan’s politicians offer their support during such a trying time despite being a neutral country.  Ema must deal with the two parts of herself–the Japanese part and the American one–and it makes things difficult at times, especially as the months drag on.

This story is told in verse, with onomatopoeic sounds in both English and Japanese, incredible descriptions, and cultural references.  So, as someone who works for a Japanese coffee company, this was an incredibly fun and educational tale.  Overall, this is a meaningful and impactful story that will certainly grab onto and hold onto readers’ minds and hearts.

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