Bound To Stay Bound

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 While I was away
 Author: Brown, Waka T.

 Publisher:  Quill Tree Books (2022)

 Dewey: 305.8956
 Classification: Autobiography
 Physical Description: 310 p., ill., 22 cm

 BTSB No: 162531 ISBN: 9780063017115
 Ages: 8-12 Grades: 3-7

 Brown, Waka T
 Japanese Americans -- Biography
 Grandparent-grandchild relationship
 Tokyo (Japan)

Price: $8.19

When twelve-year-old Waka's parents suspect she can't understand basic Japanese they speak to her, they make the drastic decision to send her to Tokyo to live for several months with her strict grandmother. Forced to say goodbye to her friends and what would have been her summer vacation, Waka is plucked from her straight-A-student life in rural Kansas and flown across the globe, where she faces the culture shock of a lifetime.

Accelerated Reader Information:
   Interest Level: MG
   Reading Level: 5.10
   Points: 10.0   Quiz: 511952

Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 01/01/2021 *Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Waka’s parents realize that, despite being raised in a bilingual household, her Japanese needs a boost, so they send her to live with her grandmother and attend school in Japan for five months. Waka is horrified, not wanting to leave Kansas, friends, and family, but she comes to find that her stay in Japan deepens her cultural understanding, family ties, and sense of self. Brown’s debut novel, set from 1983 to 1984, is based on her own experience and perfectly captures the rhythms and cadences of American middle school and Japanese family life. The inclusion of Japanese script, with romanized phonetics and English translations, immerses the reader in Waka’s world. Brown directly addresses culture shock, with Waka going from star pupil in Kansas to “dumb jock” in Japan, where she is unable to read fluently and mocked for her accent. Today’s tweens will see many similarities between her experiences and their own; bullying from boys and the more subtle but equally painful snubs by girl cliques are especially well drawn. Immigrants from any culture will identify with the difficulties of negotiating a new country and school. But most touching is the transformation of Waka’s relationship with her grandmother, a reserved matriarch with a fierce temper. Finally, Brown eschews a Hollywood happy ending, staying true to Japanese traditions and culture, for a far more poignant and realistic ending. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 02/01/2021 Gr 6 Up—Fearing that she no longer understands Japanese or is connected with her culture, 12-year-old Brown's parents send her to live with her grandmother in Tokyo for five months the summer after sixth grade. Uprooted from 1980s Kansas, Brown feels like a typical American middle schooler, and she does not look forward to attending school in Japan or living with her grandmother, who she views as a stern and serious woman. The narrative follows Brown during her time in Japan as she struggles to befriend her classmates, develop her Japanese language skills, and connect with her grandmother in a country she views as her parents' home rather than her own. The text includes an introduction and an author's note, which explain some aspects of Japanese pronunciation to readers and provides additional contextual information about the time period. Fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Jasmine Warga will enjoy Brown's honest exploration of differences between American and Japanese culture and her sometimes bumpy journey to fit in with her classmates and her family. VERDICT This memoir artfully depicts Brown's experience as a child who feels pulled between two cultures. A welcome addition to any middle grade collection.—Madison Bishop, Forbes Lib., Northampton, MA - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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