Author: Lensey Namioka
Reading Level: 6th-8th grade
Edition: Hardcover, 2006
I agree with almost every notion Namioka presents in this book: that no singular experience (no matter one’s race or heritage) is truly shared by all and that one has to discover and rediscover one’s heritage and relationship with that heritage over and over again: a life long endeavor.
However, these “messages” are so heavy that I felt as if being sat on by a giant troll and had the air squeezed out of my lungs the entire time while reading this book. This is not an organic story, growing out of the young couple’s (Japanese and Chinese American teens) love for each other, but a plastic plant with the author’s hands manipulating the shapes of the branches and the color of the flowers and all the folds of the leaves. It seems such a shame that a potentially profound story can become so superficial and the “solutions” of the cultural and racial conflicts are unconvincingly simplistic. I cannot bring myself to believe that the grandmother (who is about my own mother’s age, with similar experience as a Chinese young girl in Japanese occupied China) would have accepted the Japanese family within a week of her discovery of this dating business. How can someone’s life-long bias against an entire orther race be altered overnight? Anyone who does not have this specific “Asian” experience should still know that racial biases do not get resolved like this. This story’s all happy endings render all the messages too lightweighted to matter at all.