Kira-Kira Book Review
Katie Takeshima is a young Japanese girl growing up in Southern Georgia in the 1950s. Take a look at our book review of a novel that covers topics like racism, death and family life.
Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Kira-Kira is a story surrounding Katie Takeshima, a feisty Japanese girl who moves to southern Georgia in 1951. Not quite old enough to start school yet, Katie learns everything she knows from her big sister Lynn - from dealing with racism to finding the glitter and shine (AKA kira-kira) in the most unusual places. Read on to find out more!
All That Glitters is GoldOne of Katie Takeshima's first words was kira-kira. It's the Japanese word for glittery and shining, and Katie loved it so much that she used it to describe everything she saw. Her big sister Lynn had taught it to her. Lynn would talk of the sea and how kira-kira it must be, dreaming of one day moving to California where they could live in houses side by side on the beach. Katie used the word to describe everything in sight - trees, grass and the bright, blue Iowa sky. Even when Lynn and Katie's parents pack them up and move to Georgia, the girls continue to find the kira-kira in everything around them, even though they desperately don't want to move.
The Mean Streets of Georgia
Things in Georgia aren't quite as kira-kira as the girls had hoped. There are only 31 Japanese people in town and that causes some tension for the Takeshima family. When it's Katie's time to head to school, it's Lynn who tells her that the other kids might not treat her the same. It's Lynn who tells her that they have a new baby brother on the way. And it's Lynn who guides Katie through the difficulties in life. That is, until Lynn gets sick, and no one really knows why.
As Lynn gets progressively worse, Katie tries her best to keep Lynn's kira-kira philosophy alive. They plan country picnics, camping trips and star-gazing. With their parents working non-stop to try and afford a house for their family, Katie takes on the responsibility of caring for Lynn. The roles are suddenly reversed for the sisters, but their shared love of things kira-kira never falters.
The Bottom Line
Kira-Kira is a heartfelt story of facing adversities head on, and always keeping a positive attitude. The subject matter in this novel is a bit heavy, but if you're looking for something a little more moving than the latest Sweet Valley High book, Kira-Kira is definitely worth a read.