Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

kira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining 

Glittering. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason and so are people's eyes. 

When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare, and it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow, but when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering -- kira-kira -- in the future.


I had high expectations for this book because it won a Newbery Medal, but I was really disappointed by this book. I thought it had tremendous potential, but the overall narrative fell short for me. It started out well and the relationship between the sisters was endearing and sweet. It became obvious very early that Lynn was sick and was going to die. I thought this would become the focus of the novel, but the illness almost became secondary, existing only in the background, even though it was the catalyst for the many changes the family went through. The characters and plot felt underdeveloped at times and in the end, I was left wanting.

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