Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu is a novel in poetry about the effect of September 11, 2001 about a Japanese-American girl living in Japan. As Ema prepares in her grandparent’s home for the arrival of a new sibling, she struggles with bullying in her school, as the other students tease her and she adjusts to a very Japanese school in a new neighborhood.
Then, in shock, she hears of the unfolding of the terrorist attacks in the USA. Now she is even more torn between her identity as a biracial and bi-national girl in her school, and she struggles with the relationship with her grandparents as well. Is there any hope for the world if the USA goes down? How can she go to school as if nothing has happened? And how can she handle the bully she must face when she does return to class?
The book is written in sparse poetry in a modern style of writing. It is beautiful as is describes both the painful moments and the hopeful ones. See, for example, the simple introduction to what happens on the evening of September 11 for those in Japan.
a news flash
the whole neighborhood gasps.
I loved how the book provided so much context of what life was like for Ema in the months before the life-changing events. These events gave structure to Ema’s resolution: how the terror of 9/11 both helped her deal with her life and added additional complexity. Life is not black and white.
Although Somewhere Among deals with difficult subjects such as September 11 and bullying, the book as a whole has a sweet feeling of hope. In the end, Ema comes to terms with both her role in the world as a Japanese-American girl and with the bully whom she has had difficulties. There is hope for the future, and the book captures that hope beautifully, even in the midst of terror.
Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.