Monday, December 18, 2017

ORCHARDS by Holly Thompson


The summer after eighth grade Kana Goldberg was sent to visit relatives in Japan. Half Japanese/American and half Jewish/American, Kana was prepared to be uncomfortable to say the least. The recent suicide of a classmate had all the parents sending their daughters somewhere for the summer.

Kana found herself sharing a room with one cousin and helping work in the family's citrus orchard with another cousin. Kana was given plenty of chores to do while being supervised by her critical grandmother. Learning the ins and outs of the local and family customs kept Kana busy since she was also struggling to brush off her rusty language skills.

All the business was intended to help Kana keep her mind occupied and off the tragedy she had left behind at home. As time passed, she realized she did think less about what had happened, but she still had to deal with the fact that she may not have been at fault for the bullying that caused Ruth's suicide, but rather the fact that she hadn't done anything to stop it.

Kana summer in Japan helps her recognize and appreciate what is important about family and friends and what it means to take responsibility when it comes to relationships. Author Holly Thompson paints a beautiful portrait of the Japanese countryside and the family orchard as she tells Kana's story in verse.

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