Kira-Kira
Cynthia Kadohata

“Kira-kira” is the Japanese word for “glittering.” This is a word that Lynne taught to her sister Katie. Katie loved to go outside and look at things and she would say “kira-kira” to practically anything. Lynne and Katie were best friends.

Katie and Lynne lived with their family in Iowa. Their parents had run a Japanese store, but because there were not very many Japanese families in their town, the store soon closed and Katie’s parents were out of a job. Katie’s uncle, her dad’s brother, told them that there were job openings in Georgia at a hatchery. If the family moved there, Katie’s dad could work at a hatchery, and a job could be found for her mom, too. They wanted to save as much money as possible.

Katie’s parents thought it would be a good idea to go to Georgia. The family moved down there and settled into a small apartment. Katie attended school, in which she got average grades. Lynne worked very hard in school and got very good grades. Soon after the family moved to Georgia, Sammy was born. A lady would come and stay with Sammy while the girls and the parents were at work.

One day, Lynne got sick. She was tired all the time and often had to stay home from school and just stay in bed all day.

There were days when Lynne would feel better. Then things were back to normal and the three siblings would go outside or sit inside and talk and spend time together. They were all close, but it was more difficult on the days that Lynne was not feeling well.

Katie’s parents worked all the time. Sometimes her father would not even come home and he would spend the night at work. During the summer when there was no school, Katie and Sammy would have to go to work with their mother and stay in the car all day while she worked.

Soon, Lynne got sicker. She had lymphoma, but Katie’s father assured her that Lynne would get better. One day Katie was in Lynne’s bedroom and went outside to look at the sky. She fell asleep, and when she woke up, she was being taken back into the house. Her dad told her that Lynne was gone, that she had died.

The family made funeral arrangements. Katie saw sides of her parents that she had not seen before. They kept everything that would remind them of their days with Lynne. Katie was given Lynne’s diary.

Finally, after things had calmed down a bit, Katie’s father asked her if she wanted to go on vacation. She said she wanted to go to California, which was where Lynne had always wanted to live, by the sea. The family went to California. In all of the sounds that Katie heard in nature, she heard Lynne’s voice chirping, “kira-kira!”

This book was good, but very sad. It made me sad as I read it that the parents were working so hard and the kids had to be by themselves and the family could never be together. As Lynne got sicker, the relationships in the family grew even more strained and distant. Obviously it was sad that Lynne died in the end.

I did enjoy this book, even if it was sad. I loved the descriptions of nature and people, and I loved the way that the three siblings were so close. I would definitely recommend this book for a quick read or for use in the classroom. - JH