While I Was Away. Waka T. Brown. 2021. [January] 310 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: One wintry January afternoon, my mom said to me, "Waka, chotto sentaku tatande yo."
Premise/plot: While I Was Away is a memoir. The author recalls her sixth grade year--1984--in which she's sent abroad [for five months] to Japan to live with her grandmother and attend a [Japanese] school. Her parents want her to be able to speak, read, and write Japanese. She'll miss all of summer vacation, and the first few months of her seventh grade year. She'll know what she's missing out on in Kansas...but she has no idea what will await her in Tokyo.
My thoughts: I really loved this one. I thought it was a fascinating read. So much depth and substance. So much food for thought. It packs in a lot of emotions and feelings, and so many experiences. I think my favorite part was seeing the development of relationships. She's leaving her family and friends behind in Kansas. She's going to live with her strict grandmother. She'll be visiting aunts, uncles, and cousins. She'll be attending school and meeting a lot of people her own age. To see her build relationships--to struggle to build relationships--to make a life for herself and find her place to belong...it was just a beautiful thing to see. And one we don't often get in such great detail.
© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews