A Place To Belong

416p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481446648.
RedReviewStarGr 5 Up—World War II has ended and 12-year-old Hanako, her five-year old brother Akira, and their American-born parents have spent the past four years imprisoned in a series of internment camps. Hana's parents accept an offer from the U.S. government to renounce their American citizenship and expatriate to Japan. Their plan is to live with Hanako's father's parents, poor tenant farmers outside the city of Hiroshima. Hanako is hopeful for her family's new chance in Japan and immediately loves her Jiichan and Baachan but is faced with the realities of life in an unfamiliar, war-blighted country. Resources are scarce; as her family toils endlessly to keep food in the house, Hanako is torn between providing for her family and sharing what little she has with the people she encounters around Hiroshima. In her trademark style, Kadohata unfurls the complex web of the girl's inner thoughts in a concise yet cutting third-person narrative. Hanako attempts to discern what it means to be good and how to belong in a place where one is not truly welcome. An afterword gives further details on the history of internment and expatriate Americans in Japan.
VERDICT A first purchase for collections needing complex and emotionally impactful historical fiction.

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