Anna and the French Kiss meets Stoner & Spaz in a contemporary young adult coming-of-age novel about a girl, her struggles, and her art. Aiko Cassidy is fifteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the figures that have made her mother famous. Aiko works hard on her own dream, becoming a sought-after manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all.
Fifteen-year-old manga artist Aiko Cassidy begins a life of her own when her mother, famous for her sculptures of Aiko, wins a major award, and they move from Michigan to the City of Lights for the summer. Aiko is obsessed with meeting her estranged father, an indigo farmer in Japan, but Paris's diversity and creative atmosphere prove to be a welcome and even inspirational substitute. There, she teams up with Herv , a dashing 16-year-old waiter with similarly big dreams, who admires Aiko and her art and helps her negative self-image (as a klutzy, biracial girl with cerebral palsy) to fade away. In addition, Aiko improves her relationship with her mother, discovers family secrets, and gains the freedom to be herself. Kamata's love and intimate knowledge of Paris streets add atmosphere to this smart and surprising coming-of-age story, the author's first book for teens (it was developed from a novella previously published in Cicada magazine). Readers will feel whisked away by the romance of an artistic life and appreciate the sensitivity and honesty with which Kamata writes about Aiko's physical and emotional journeys. Ages 12 up.
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Spectacular young adult book. It was told with an honesty that could be felt through the pages.