Written by Cynthia Kadohata
Reviewed by Andrew Liu, age 15, and Max Lien, age 13
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, is a book about a young Japanese-American girl, Katie Takeshima and the hardships her family has to face when they are forced to relocate to Georgia. This Newbery medal-winning book tells the tale of one family’s journey to a new place, their experiences with racism, and the ability of people to persevere through hard times.
In the Book, Katie and Lynn Takeshima are sisters. The story begins in Iowa, where their parents’ small family-owned grocery store runs out of business. Soon after, the Takeshima’s face financial difficulties and they go in search of a new home. The family moves to Georgia where they work at a hatchery with their Uncle. On the way to their new home in Georgia, they fall victim to racism and have difficulty “fitting in” when a hotel clerk told them to go to “the back” where the “Indians” have to stay.
Life got even harder for the Takeshima’s when they began to work at the hatchery. Katie’s parents were overworked at the Hatchery. They had to stay in a crammed apartment with little space. And as if that wasn’t enough, Katie was overwhelmed with her schoolwork. During Katie’s struggle, Lynn becomes sick. Katie feels unsafe and Lynn is struggling with her illness—which is especially hard because Katie always looked up to Lynn. Despite the hard times that Katie and her family had to endure, this story is a beautiful example of resilience and friendship.
Kira-Kira takes its reader on a journey with this family—it opens the reader’s eyes to some of the struggles that Asian American faced. We recommend this book to anyone from late elementary school to middle school.