Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira- Kira.
Atheneum Books For Young Readers, New York 2004
Written by: Cynthia Kadohata
Reviewed by: Catherine St. Thomas
Recommended audience: high school
Kira- Kira novel is about a five years old Japanese girl, Katie Takeshima and her family who grow up in the 1950’s. The book starts off in a rural town in Iowa, where her parents own a small Oriental foods grocery store. Since there weren’t many Japanese people that lived in town, the shop went out of business and they decided to move to a place in Georgia. In order for her family to have a home to sleep in, Katie’s parents take jobs as chicken sexers and work very long, hard, laborious hours in a factory.
Soon after moving to Georgia, Katie is surprised with a younger brother, Sam Takeshima, who will later be known as her best companion. As long work hours for her parents make them suffer, it also brings a burden on the children. Katie was never the smartest child in school and always felt like her highest level of thinking could only get her a C in school. She always tended to look up to her older sister, Lynn, for help, guidance, and support. Lynn was very academically inclined and was always caught studying for hours on end. Lynn was a very beautiful, popular girl in her grade and making friends was very easy for her. She and her best friend, Amber, were inseparable and were always feeding Katie the bone and taking her along on their adventures. Soon after, Katie started to feel distanced from her sister and seemed like Amber had been changing her into something she wasn’t. Along with these changes, Lynn started to become sick and skip school to stay in bed.
Years pass and the family slowly starts to fall apart. Their lives are soon filled with regret as the father is forced to take on two jobs and the mother pushes to take on several more work hours. Katie and Sam are partially ignored by their parents as Lynn is the ill one and have to be seen as adults, doing daily tasks and chores. Any thing Lynn needs, it’s their job to take care of her. Tragedy strikes their family and soon starts to take down the whole family and leaves everyone with remorse and grief which can never be fully forgotten.