While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Waka lives in Kansas with her Japanese born parents, and they speak both Japanese and English at home. Concerned that Waka’s Japanese is not strong enough, her parents decide to send her to Japan for four months to live with her grandmother and attend Japanese school. Waka has always been a strong student, so struggling with reading is very frustrating to her, and getting along with her grandmother proves tricky as well.

I have always loved Japanese culture, so I really enjoyed this inside look at a Japanese school in the 1980s. Japanese words are sprinkled liberally throughout the text, as well as explanations for how some of the kanji are derived. I enjoyed Waka’s journey, her honesty, and her recollections of what this time in her life were like. If you like true stories (this is a memoir), like learning new things, and enjoy reading about relationships, this might be the book for you.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC BROWN)

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