Review Detail

Kids Fiction 839
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

A Small Zombie Problem (Zombie Problems, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In his fiction debut--and the start of a new series--celebrated...
My Funny Bunny
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a boy receives a gift box from his uncle...
Kindness Rules! (A Hello!Lucky Book)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know...
Teeny Tiny Ghost
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
An adorable spooky twist on "The Teeny Tiny Woman" that's...
A Pumpkin for Peter: A Peter Rabbit Tale
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hop into the world of Peter Rabbit and his friends...
Solving for M
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish,...
A Parade of Elephants
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes follows five...
My Fate According To The Butterfly
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen...
The Rough Patch
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Caldecott Honor Book An...
Sunny's Tow Truck Saves the Day!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a family car gets a flat on the way...
How to Be a Cat
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In cut-paper artist Nikki McClure’s latest picture book, a kitten...
TBH, IDK What's Next (TBH, #4)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Three BFFs set out to have the BEST SUMMER EVER...
Finding Esme
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on...
Five Little Pumpkins on Halloween Night
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join these happy pumpkins in a cheerful rhyming countdown, in...
Wreck: A Novel
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high...
The Madman of Piney Woods
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends....

Latest Member Reviews

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life
 
3.3
"Sixteen-year-old foster kid Elle Zoellner's life turns topsy turvy when a father, she never knew about, wants her to move..."
Truly Madly Royally
 
3.0
"I’d be lying if I didn’t say that half of the reason why I read this was because it’s a..."
Finding Esme
 
3.3
"Esme feels alone. Her much-loved grandfather died, her dad deserted the family, her mom has mentally checked out, and her..."
House of Salt and Sorrows
 
4.3
"Annaleigh just wanted to be in charge of the lighthouse close to her island home. Rumors circulate on the island..."
Wreck: A Novel
 
4.3
"WRECK is a heart-wrenching story about a teenage girl on the brink of college as she discovers her father's life-altering..."
Reverie
 
5.0
"REVERIE is a captivating and unique YA fantasy without adequate comparisons. The book follows Kane, a teenage boy who was..."
Coral
 
3.0
"CORAL is not a fairytale retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID- while it may have been inspired by some of the..."
You Are The Everything
 
4.0
"YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING is an intriguing stream-of-consciousness style read that follows Elyse Schmidt, a 16/17 year old girl who..."
The Last Hope
 
4.7
"I honestly don’t know where to begin! The Last Hope by Krista & Becca Ritchie picks up thirty days after..."
 
4.0
"Most books about a school shooting would start with the horrific event at the center of story, but EVERY MOMENT..."
The Bone Houses
 
5.0
"THE BONE HOUSES is a beautifully crafted and full engrossing YA fantasy with some horror aspects. Aderyn (Ryn) is a..."
The Silence Between Us
 
4.7
"THE SILENCE BETWEEN US is an #ownvoices story about Maya, a senior in high school who has just moved with..."
Beasts of the Frozen Sun
 
4.7
"BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN features lush world-building, compelling characters, and a captivating plot that make it an engrossing read...."
Snow & Rose
 
5.0
"NOTE: Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
Where I End and You Begin
 
4.0
"All Ezra wants to do is ask his crush Imogen to the prom. But when he and his friend Holden..."
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
 
4.0
"When Edie moves back to Mansfield to life with her aunt, uncle, and two cousins, she is reunited with her..."
The Beholder
 
4.0
"When Selah's proposal to her childhood crush is rejected, she is sent away on a boat to meet possible suitors...."
The Burning Shadow (Origin Series, #2)
 
5.0
"THE BURNING SHADOW is a fantastic and thrilling continuation of the spin-off Origin series. Just like the original series, there..."
Gods of Jade and Shadow
 
4.7
"Eighteen-year-old Casiopea feels trapped in her rich grandfather’s home in southern Mexico. She wants to leave their small town and..."
 
3.0
"THE HIVE by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden is a YA sci-fi novel set in the near future. In this..."