“An essential read…with a message of hope and community.” —Booklist (starred review)
In the spirit of A Place to Belong, this “moving” (Kirkus Reviews) novel-in-verse examines the aftershocks of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 through the eyes of a young girl who learns that even the smallest kindness can make a difference.
March 11, 2011
An earthquake shakes Japan to its core.
A tsunami crashes into Japan’s coast.
In the aftermath of the natural disasters that have struck her country, eleven-year-old Maya is luckier than many. Her family didn’t lose their home, their lives, or each other. But Maya still can’t help feeling paralyzed with terror, and each aftershock that ripples out in the days that follow makes her fear all over again that her luck could change in an instant.
As word of the devastation elsewhere grows increasingly grim—tens of thousands have perished—it all seems so huge, so irreparable. Already flinching at every rumble from the earth, Maya’s overcome with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. How can her country ever recover, and how could anything she does possibly make a difference?
Before Maya can extend a hand to others, she must dig deep to find the hidden well of strength in herself in this sweeping, searing novel that shows even small acts can add something greater and help people and communities heal.
On Mar. 11, 2011, an earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan, followed by a tsunami and an explosion at a damaged nuclear power plant, caused devastation throughout the country. Through the eyes of fifth grader Maya, who lives outside of Tokyo, this novel in free verse recounts the stressors of the event, its aftermath, and its ongoing reverberations. As the story begins, Maya plays freely in the wind and plans to perform a choir piece at school, but her daily life undergoes a dramatic change when the earthquake hits. After the event, the girl spends much of her time sheltering under a table and observing her parents, who try to help those affected, and her grandparents, who calmly tend their garden and vegetable stand. Donwerth-Chikamatsu (Somewhere Among) adapts font color, size, and word placement to reflect Maya's physical experiences: one page includes only the enlarged phrase "Earth/ drops/ below me," while others highlight times in the margin ("07:44 Earth shudders"), giving a feel to its passing. As the story shows the country's unsteadiness and Maya's creative strategies for overcoming her sense of helplessness, it offers a compassionate window into how adults and children cope with calamity. Ages 8 12.