Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Reading Level: 6th – 8th Grade
Publisher: Atheneum (S&S)
Edition: Hardcover, 2006
Kadohata’s strength lies in her quiet tone and close-up examination of the main characters’ thoughts and feelings. Weedflower is a perfect example. The readers are intimately familiar with every strand of emotion in Sumiko’s life but the full picture of the time in history is a bit foggy. The fate and experiences of Sumiko’s uncle and grandfather (in the prison camp) is also sketchy at the best. This is in keeping with Sumiko’s young girl perspective. There is no telling if Kadohata had opted to force other pieces of the historical puzzle into the telling, the result would have been a more diluted or intensified tale.
My personal issue with this book is my indifference to Sumiko. I don’t find her particularly inspiring or even likable. Her status as a social outcast seems more self-imposed than forced upon by others and her small triumphs did not stir much admiration in me. I felt impatience and displeasure, rather than empathy, for her. Maybe because she seems way too self-absorbed – which, once again, shows the author’s skill at portraying a realistic person without false glorification. But, I need that glorification. I need to see that she opens her eyes and understands more about what is affecting her people, and not just how miserable her own life is or what’s going in within her immediate environment.
Report from the field: Several people (of Japanese and general Asian descent are troubled by the cover. Their first reaction has been consistent: “No one at a Japanese-American Internment Camp would have worn a kimono! That is entirely inaccurate!” And besides, Sumiko never once wore a kimono throughout the entire story.