Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1097
Finding Hope Somewhere
(Updated: May 11, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu's stunning debut novel, SOMEWHERE AMONG, will take older readers back in time and introduce new readers to an important moment in history: September 11, 2001.

Written in poetic form, this middle grade novel takes young readers to Japan and into the life of Ema. As an eleven-year-old, Ema's character observes the atrocities of the world with a critical mind and a heart that wishes for peace: in her home, in her family, in her world. This wish, and others, are hung from bamboo during Tanabata, the Japanese star festival. And through this, it is clear that the heart of this novel is about wishes and hopes for the future.

Ema and her pregnant mother move in with her father's parents, and like most families, hers is complicated. With a strict grandmother, an empathetic grandfather, and a mother who fears for her unborn baby, Ema is forced to transition into a new school and a new life, all while the world changes.

September 11, 2001, Ema is awakened by horrific things on the news. What Ema has that others may not, is a spectacular author who imbues this novel with echoes of the pain of Pearl Harbor, and the distinction between a world of peace and a world of terror. Though readers will not experience 9/11 from the United States in this novel, the way the rest of the world deals with this moment in time is just as interesting. And given the fact that Ema has connections to Japanese culture, and grandparents from the US, her viewpoint is immense and integral to the success of this story.

While 9/11 does not fill every page of this book--some days are spent at school or in the garden or looking up at the stars-- the tremors of this terrifying time can be felt on every page. With the promise of a new sibling, it is as if the author has put all of the hopes and dreams for the world after 9/11's terrorist attacks in the image of one new baby. And of course this is such a beautiful way to think about how worlds have had to be rebuilt after devastation, after wars; bereavement and sorrow giving birth to better times ahead.

Throughout this novel there are many Japanese words and customs introduced, however, these things never feel confusing. If anything, readers will learn so much more about the Japanese culture in a way that feels organic and important to the story. It is the way Ema wishes on a blue slip of paper, the way they try to remember New Year's dreams amongst Christmas trees and Beatles songs, that we truly see her "somewhere among" Japan and America.

With exquisite details and heartfelt sentiments, this world is one that is full of love and light amidst sorrow and darkness. It is true that the most beautiful observations often come from children; unclouded by past hate or a life filled with hurt. Ema's observations are beautiful, even when they are enough to break hearts. And this book is heartbreaking. But from the rubble of Ema's wishes and the fallen towers, readers will see the rebuilding of hope in just one paper crane, the forgiveness of school squabbles, the future hope of new life, the profundity of glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars on the darkest of nights. All of this fills the lyrical pages of Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu's debut novel.

Perfect for both parents and children, SOMEWHERE AMONG will transport readers to a beautiful culture during a devastating time in history where they can see just how much people and whole worlds are changed.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Baseball Baby
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This original board book series, which begins with America's favorite...
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This hilarious story of a pangolin with an identity crisis...
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
When Sam can’t sleep, he decides to ask all the...
Welcome to California
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to California! We're glad you're here! Introducing a new...
The Other Side of Perfect
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi, this...
Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Join Jasmine and Jamie as they travel back in time...
Let's Pretend Fire Station
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
It's a busy day at the fire station! Chldren can...
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs / A Rosa Le Encantan Los Dinosaurios
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Let's find out which toys Rosa and her friends are...
Things That Go (I Can Learn)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Travel by land, sea, and air in this bright and...
Welcome to Florida
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to Florida! We're glad you're here! Introducing a new...
Indivisible
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This timely, moving debut novel follows a teen's efforts to...
Homer on the Case
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrated author and illustrator Henry Cole returns with a page-turning...
The Thingity-Jig
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This jovial frolic through the city and woods celebrates ingenuity...
The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting...
The Sacrifice of One
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Who would want to execute my brother? ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
1426, Joseon (Korea). Hwani's family has never been the same...

Latest Member Reviews

Baseball Baby
 
5.0
"BASEBALL BABY is a delightful board book about baseball. The book begins with heading to the park to play baseball..."
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
"I AM NOT A PENGUIN is a silly picture book that manages to teach young readers about pangolins. A pangolin..."
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
"SAM CAN'T SLEEP is a fun picture book read that introduces the concept of nocturnal animals. It's nighttime, and all..."
Welcome to California
 
4.0
"WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA is a fun picture book of facts about the state. It covers topics from the state capitol..."
Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
 
4.5
"ZOOM: DINOSAUR ADVENTURE takes the reader on a journey to the time of the dinosaurs. Jamie and Jasmine are going..."
Let's Pretend Fire Station
 
5.0
"LET'S PRETEND FIRE STATION is a delightful peek-through board book about firefighters. The book features pictures of children, firetrucks, and..."
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs / A Rosa Le Encantan Los Dinosaurios
 
3.5
"ROSA LOVES DINOSAURS/ A ROSA LE ENCANTAN LOS DINOSAURIOS is a fun bilingual board book about a love of dinosaurs...."
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch
 
5.0
"Eva Evergreen is a young witch about to embark on her Novice Quest. As the daughter of one of the..."
Homer on the Case
 
4.5
"HOMER ON THE CASE is a delightful middle grade mystery, featuring unlikely detectives. Homer, a homing pigeon, and Lulu, a..."
The Thingity-Jig
 
5.0
"THE THINGITY-JIG is a fun picture book read about invention and friendship. Although all his friends are asleep, Bear feels..."
Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts #3)
 
4.0
"What worked: This is a satisfying conclusion to City of Ghosts series. Engaging characters, fast-paced plot, and spooky magic woven..."
This is Your World
 
5.0
"THIS IS YOUR WORLD is a lovely picture book that introduces the world and the importance of taking care of..."
Mermaid Life: The Joy of Making Waves
 
5.0
"MERMAID LIFE is a fun collection of artwork themed around mermaids. With a few fun facts, silly moments, and inspirational..."
Yawn
 
4.5
"YAWN is a cute book about the contagious nature of yawns. A little boy begins a yawn that carries through..."
The Bear in the Boat
 
4.5
"THE BEAR IN THE BOAT is a sweet story of kindness and helping your neighbors. A storm is arriving, and..."
It's Bath Time! (Indestructibles)
 
4.5
"IT'S BATH TIME! is an adorable installment in the Indestructibles series. The book features baby animals and baby who have..."
I Really, Really Need to Pee!
 
4.0
"I REALLY, REALLY NEED TO PEE! is a silly picture book about a bush baby that is out and about..."
Bloom
 
4.5
"BLOOM is a sweet picture book about the power of kind words. A young girl passes by a beautiful flower..."
Aru Shah and the City of Gold
 
5.0
"***This review contains spoilers for the prior series installment, book 3, ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES** With..."
Mia Mayhem Steals the Show!
 
5.0
"An adorable story about an upbeat superhero girl. Mia is a superhero, a fact only her best friend..."