Thursday, June 25, 2009

1001 Cranes, by Naomi Hirahara

Twelve year-old Angie spends the Summer in Los Angeles with her grandparents, as her parents go through a separation. During her stay, she learns more about her Japanese heritage, helps her grandparents with their florist business, learns to fold 1001 origami cranes, gives comfort to an ailing neighbor, falls in love, and spends a lot of time observing adults not acting their best. An appendix even offers instruction to the curious about how to fold paper cranes.

The culture lessons come on a bit too fast and thick for me and I enjoyed this book best when it was just telling a story, rather than trying to introduce the reader to Japanese-American culture. Angie makes for an interesting and sympathetic heroine. She makes enough mistakes to believable and has flaws that a reader can relate to, yet her heart is in the right place. That's a strong sell for a book intended for middle readers. I also appreciated the ambiguous ending that didn't attempt to tie up all fo her struggles.

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