Empire State

A Love Story (or Not)
Gr 9 Up—Jimmy, an Asian man, and Sara, a Jewish woman, are best friends. They live in Oakland, but Sara dreams of working in the publishing industry and moves to New York. They have a long-distance friendship at first, but when Sara sends him a tote bag from the Strand bookstore, Jimmy decides to travel across the country to see her again. He has romantic ideas about Sara, and about New York itself. He wants to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building at sunset, just like in Sleepless in Seattle. He takes a bus rather than a plane because he wants to see more of the country, but the trip and the destination don't turn out to be what he expected. At first Jimmy is a young man who signs his paychecks over to his mother, who then gives him an allowance. He is happy with his library job, and happy in Oakland. But Sara inspires him to be brave, and to make choices he never would have made before. Shiga uses a simple, cartoon style to illustrate this book. The story is alternately saturated in red and blue tones that don't make sense at first, but readers will soon realize that the colors of the pages indicate chronological shifts in the story. This is a semiautobiographical book that was inspired by a cross-country Greyhound bus trip, and it will be most appreciated by readers who are ready to savor this quietly emotional journey.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

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