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Kira-kira is an easy read but a heartfelt story

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“Kira-kiraa�� means “glittering” or “shining” in Japanese and I can’t think of better words to title a story so touching and heartwarming. Kira-kira by Cynthia Kadohata is a powerful book that is easy to relate to and will leave you emotional and reflecting upon your own life.

Kira-kira is the story of the Japanese-American Takeshima family, told from the point of view of Katie, their youngest daughter. Katie lives with her Japanese-born parents, older sister Lynn, and younger brother Sammy. The family has lived happily in a Japanese community in rural Iowa for as long as 12-year-old Katie can remember. However, each family member faces his or her own problems when they move across the country to southern Georgia.

When Katie was just a little girl, Lynn taught her about their Japanese heritage. She taught Katie about “kira-kira,a�� or seeing the shine and glitter in everything around you. The sisters learned to see the “kira-kiraa�� in everything and found goodness in the sky, the sea, dreams, and other objects all around them. A while after moving to Georgia, Lynn is diagnosed with cancer, and each family member’s life changes dramatically. Although terrible events take place, the sisters still manage to find the “kira-kiraa�� around them.

Kira-kira describes the struggles thrown at a minority family living in the U.S. during a time of discrimination. Moving to prejudiced southern Georgia from Iowa, where the family was accepted and comfortable, was a demanding change for every character. On top of that, Lynn’s cancer destroys almost every particle of hope the family has left. From radiology to racism, the Takeshima family perseveres through every challenge thrown at them.

Even though the Takeshima family face incredible difficulties, they support and love each other the whole way through. The reader can indulge in the fact that wherever Katie goes, the love in her heart will always keep the “kira-kiraa�� surrounding her.”

The language used in Kira-kira makes it extremely unique. Throughout the book, Katie defines many Japanese phrases, such as “katsua�� and “kibeia�� throughout the book. By the end of the story, the reader feels like a member of the Takeshima family themselves, as they understand most of the Japanese terms that the family uses. Kadohata’s writing is unique because of its maturity while still retaining a child-like innocence. The lack of difficult words and the abundance of simple sentence structure makes it an easy read, without a diminished quality of writing.

One of the best aspects of the story is the relationship between the children that develops as they grow. It is easy for the reader to notice how Katie and Sammy look up to Lynn and are devastated by her illnesses. As the story takes place over the period of a year, it is intriguing to see all three children grow up and mature with age. The relationship between the two sisters is one that would be difficult to recreate in any other story. You can truly sense the trust and affection between Lynn and Katie.

Kira-kira is a beautiful story about spirit and strength. Although Kadohata’s writing is not complex, the story is intricate and developed very well. Even though the Takeshima family face incredible difficulties, they support and love each other the whole way through. The reader can indulge in the fact that wherever Katie goes, the love in her heart will always keep the “kira-kiraa�� surrounding her.

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Kira-kira is an easy read but a heartfelt story