"Kira-kira" is told from the perspective of Katie Takeshima. It is about her memories of her Japanese-American family’s experience of living in the Georgia during the mid-1950s when she was between the ages of four and eleven. There is a lot of subtle insight into the society at the time but not in a way that obstructs how a young person like Katie would experience and described the world. This book is really funny at times – Katie has a great perspective on life - but there is also the sort of strange humour that a person can experience when events around them are confusing and desperate, even tragic. There are very tragic events in this story so get ready to be sad.

I’m glad that I didn’t post a review of this book immediately after reading it because it has taken me a little while to appreciate just how good it is. I’ve realized that many of the scenes in the book – even some of the really simple ones – have stayed with me very clearly and become more meaningful as I have turned them over in my mind. Katie’s voice is fully realized and consistent and her feelings about the events in her life are complex. This made the book seem very real and true to me.

I think that someone who likes realistic fiction that addresses serious topics about finding your way in the world, social justice and how families and individuals cope with tragedy would really enjoy this book. Some of the ideas are presented in a understated way so this might be a book for someone 12 and up who likes to really think about what they are reading. This is a beautiful book. Very “kira kira” (sparkling).

Tilda's rating:
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