Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Just finished: Cynthia Kadohata's Newberry Medal winner

When I was little, I hated books that won awards for children's literature. I always found such books depressing (if Oprah's book club selections were all about women overcoming trying circumstances, these award-winning books were all somehow related to death). Perhaps it is my early aversion to such books which now makes me seek them out.

I just finished kira-kira, the Newberry Medal winning novel by Cynthia Kadohata.



I did like it, though it does fit my childhood preconceptions of award winners: the narrator, a preteen Japanese American girl, tells of her big sister's illness and death in 1950s Georgia (yes, the South again, but this novel is blessedly free from specifics of setting -- there are no vivid, detailed recreations of time or place. In fact, the novel could have been set anywhere, anytime and still worked). I liked that the writing is sparse and quiet and Kadohata doesn't try to beat the reader over the head with the meaning of life; she trusts you'll get it without the need for preachiness.

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