Published by Simon & Schuster on 20 June 2008
Genres: Asian American, Death & Dying, Family, People & Places, Social Issues, Young Adult
Kira, Kira is set in the 1950’s and is narrated by Katie Takeshima, who starts off the story with a memory from when she was 5 years old and living in Iowa with her parents and older sister, Lynn. Katie loves Lynn and idolizes her as many little sisters do. She follows Lynn everywhere and looks to Lynn for advice and knowledge. It is Lynn, who breaks the news that they are moving to Georgia. and Lynn who tells Katie when they are going to have a new baby brother when Katie notices that her mother ‘grows fatter and seems to throw up all the time.’ In Georgia, they are one of just a few Japanese-Americans living in the town and because they are different they are often shunned by locals still realing from the effects of the second world war. But Katie doesn’t need any other friends than Lynn.
The book follows Katie until she is 12 years old and even though the family is poor and struggling to make ends meet it doesn’t really show. For because of Lynn, Katie leads a fairly happy and carefree existence. When Katie is almost 11 her life changes dramatically as tragedy creeps into her happy family life and the rest of the novel deals with her struggles to stop the world around her from crumbling completely.
As we learn in the first few pages of the novel the tile of the book, Kira, Kira, is the Japanese word for glittering. It is a word that is a favorite of both Lynn and Katie and one that they use to describe things like the blue of the sky, the clear and deep of a person’s eyes, and the sparkles that the light makes as it glints off the waves of the sea. It is also the perfect word to describe this novel for the words and phrases seem to glitter and shine as the readers eyes dance across the page. Kira, Kira is a beautifully written story about the bond that exists between two sisters and the joys and struggles that they go through as they grow up. This book made me laugh and it made me cry and I was throughly invested in the lives of the Takeshima family. There is a reason that this book won the Newbury Award and its a story that I think will stand the test of time and delight readers for years to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars